A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Resolution Survives Despite Absence of Advance Public Notice

By on August 14, 2018 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq.
Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq.

Public bodies have flexibility when an action item presents itself at a meeting where the public was not given advance notice of the matter provided the body is not deceiving the public or intentionally omitting an item it knew would be acted upon. In Jeffrey S. Feld, Esq. v. City of Orange Township et al., the plaintiff alleged that the City of Orange Township violated the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) by passing a resolution settling outstanding water and sewer bills. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the City failed to give notice or an opportunity for the public to be heard on the resolution. The plaintiff asserted that the City did not list or include the resolution in its agenda packet prior to the meeting and that the resolution was addressed after the close of citizens’ comments.

In its decision issued on July 27, 2018, the Appellate Division found no violation of the OPMA. The Court explained that while the OPMA requires a public body to include in its notice of an upcoming meeting the agenda of that meeting to the extent known, the plaintiff had not alleged or produced any evidence substantiating that the City published an agenda calculated to mislead the public or otherwise intentionally omitted items from the agenda which it knew would be acted upon. Hence, the resolution was not subject to being voided.

Important to the Court’s ruling was evidence that certain council members were not aware that the matter would be coming before the body at the meeting. In circumstances where an action item is added to the agenda at the meeting it is prudent to provide an explanation to the public of why the matter was not originally listed on the agenda.

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Robert Muccilli

About the Author

About the Author:

Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. is Co-Chair of Capehart Scatchard’s School Law Group and a Shareholder in the Labor and Employment Group. For over 25 years, he has focused his practice in the areas of school law, and labor and employment. He has represented school districts with respect to a variety of education law issues involving students, teachers, school construction and special education issues including questions pertaining to inclusion, least restrictive environment, discipline, behavior management, transition, evaluation, discrete trial instruction, medically fragile students, dyslexia, Down Syndrome, Aspergers Syndrome, and equal access to activities and services for disabled individuals. He has also been recognized as one of South Jersey’s Top Attorneys as published by SJ Magazine. Mr. Muccilli is admitted to practice law in New Jersey, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and Washington, DC.

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