FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Sent Via E-Mail
Dear Mr. Blandin:
You ask whether a
gathering of three members of the Norfolk Wetlands Board to
tour a site for which a dredging permit application had been
filed with the Board is a "meeting" under the Virginia Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA).
Section 2.1-341 defines
a "meeting" as "the meetings including work sessions, when
sitting physically, or through telephonic or video equipment
pursuant to § 2.1-343.1, as a body or entity, or as an
informal assemblage of (i) as many as three members or
(ii) a quorum, if less than three, of the constituent membership,
wherever held, with or without minutes being taken, whether
or not votes are cast, of any public body. The gathering
of employees of a public body shall not be deemed a "meeting"
subject to the provisions of this chapter." (Emphasis added)
FOIA does allow,
however, the gathering or attendance of two or more members
of a public body (i) at any place or function where no part
of the purpose of such gathering or attendance is the discussion
or transaction of any public business, and such gathering
or attendance was not called or prearranged with any purpose
of discussing or transacting any business of the public body.
(Section 2.1-343 G). Touring a site for which a permit application
is pending before the Board necessarily involves the discussion
or transaction of public business.
FOIA is clear on
its face. The informal assemblage of three members of a public
body to discuss or transact public business constitutes a
"meeting" under FOIA. As a result, public notice and access
Thank you for contacting
this office. I hope that I have been of assistance.