Civil Division-Kent County (739-7641)
Mr. Curt Scully
P.O. Box 5
New Castle, DE 19720
Dear Mr. Scully:
Our Office received your Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") complaint on October 9, 2002 alleging that the City of New Castle ("the City") violated FOIA by meeting on October 1, 2002 to discuss public business without notice to the public.
By letter dated October 10, 2002, we asked the City to respond to your complaint within ten days. We received the Town's response on October 21, 2002. The City admits that a quorum of three members of the City Council met on October 1, 2002 with "representatives from Richards Apex Corporation, the owner of the old Amoco/Duraco site located on State Route 9. The representatives of Richards Apex made a presentation regarding their development plans for the site and the City's annexation procedure was discussed." The City also admits that these were matters of "public business" so that FOIA required the meeting to be noticed to the public, which it was not.
The City has voluntarily offered to remediate this FOIA violation by publicly noticing a meeting of the Council for October 28, 2002. The agenda for that meeting (posted on October 16, 2002, at least seven days in advance in accordance with FOIA) states that "[r]epresentatives from the Richards Apex Corporation, the owner of the old Amoco/Duraco site on Route 9, will make a presentation as to their development plans for the site. Possible annexation of the site by the City will be discussed. This public presentation will be substantially the same (to the extent possible) as the presentation made to certain City officials on October 1, 2002."
We believe that this public meeting will remediate the Council's FOIA violation by involving the public in this land use issue before the crystallization of any final decision by the Council, and we commend the City and its counsel for taking this voluntary step. We caution the City, however, to comply strictly with the requirements of the open meeting law in the future.
W. Michael Tupman
Deputy Attorney General
Malcolm S. Cobin
cc: The Honorable M. Jane Brady
Gerard P. Kavanaugh, Jr., Esquire
Mr. Phillip G. Johnson, Opinion Coordinator