Town of Clarence, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Clarence 9-14-2005 by L.L. No. 4-2005. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Code of Ethics — See Ch. 19.
A. 
It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of the Town of Clarence be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy. The people must be able to remain informed if they are to retain control over those who are their public servants. It is the only climate under which the commonwealth will prosper and enable the government to operate for the benefit of those who created it.
B. 
This chapter is to be given a broad and liberal construction so as to achieve this purpose. Notwithstanding any state law to the contrary, this chapter is to be applied to any gathering or meeting of a public body, whether formal or informal, for the purpose of discussing or transacting public business.
C. 
The Clarence Town Board adopts the Open Meetings Law as set forth in Article 7 of the Public Officers Law of the State of New York and hereby declares that the following procedures be followed by the Town Board and all other boards and committees of the Town of Clarence in connection with notification of meetings and conduct of meetings.
This chapter shall be known as the "Town of Clarence Open Meeting Law."
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
EXECUTIVE SESSION
That portion of a meeting not open to the general public.
MEETING
The official convening of a public body for the purpose of conducting public business, including the use of videoconferencing for attendance and participation by the members of the public body.
PUBLIC BODY
Any entity, for which a quorum is required in order to conduct public business and which consists of two or more members, performing a governmental function for the Town or for an agency or department thereof.
A. 
There shall be no meeting of the Clarence Town Board or other board or committee of the Town of Clarence unless notice is given to the public as follows:
(1) 
Meeting scheduled at least one week in advance. Notice must be given to the public and the news media not less than 72 hours prior to the meeting. Notice to the public must be accomplished by posting in one or more designated public locations.
(2) 
Meeting scheduled less than a week in advance. Notice must be given to the public and the news media " to the extent practicable" at a reasonable time prior to the meeting by posting.
(3) 
Video conferencing. The public's notice for the meeting must inform the public that videoconferencing will be used, identify the locations for the meeting, and state that the public has the right to attend the meeting at any of the locations.
B. 
Public notice.
(1) 
Public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled shall be given at least one week prior thereto to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at least 72 hours before such meeting.
(2) 
Public notice of the time and place of every other meeting shall be given, to the extent practicable, to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at a reasonable time prior thereto.
(3) 
The public notice provided for by this section shall not be construed to require publication as a legal notice.
C. 
Open meeting and executive sessions.
(1) 
Every meeting of a public body shall be open to the general public, except that an executive session of such body may be called and business transacted thereat in accordance with § 105 of the New York State Public Officers Law.
(2) 
Public bodies shall make or cause to be made all reasonable efforts to ensure that meetings are held in facilities that permit barrier-free physical access to physically handicapped, as defined in Subdivision 5 of § 50 of the Public Buildings Law.
(3) 
A public body that uses videoconferencing to conduct its meetings shall provide an opportunity for the public to attend, listen and observe at any site at which a member participates.
(4) 
A record which is made available pursuant to New York State Public Officers Law, Article 6, Freedom of Information Law, including any proposed resolution, law, rule, regulations, policy or any amendment thereto, that is scheduled to be presented and discussed by a public body at an open meeting shall be made available for review to the public upon request at least 72 hours prior to such meeting, or as soon as practicable. Copies of such records shall be made available for a reasonable fee as determined in the same manner as provided in New York State Public Officers Law Article 6.
D. 
Conduct of executive sessions.
(1) 
Upon a majority vote of its total membership, taken in an open meeting pursuant to a motion identifying the general area or areas of the subject to be considered, a public body may conduct an executive session for the below enumerated purposes only; provided, however, that no action by formal vote shall be taken to appropriate public moneys:
(a) 
Matters which will imperil the public safety if disclosed.
(b) 
Any matter which may disclose the identity of a law enforcement agent or informer.
(c) 
Information relating to current or future investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense which would imperil effective law enforcement if disclosed.
(d) 
Discussions regarding proposed, pending or current litigation.
(e) 
Collective negotiations pursuant to Article 14 of the Civil Service Law.
(f) 
The medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation;
(g) 
The preparation, grading or administration of examinations.
(h) 
The proposed acquisition, sale or lease of real property or the proposed acquisition of securities or the sale or exchange of securities held by such public body, but only when publicity would substantially affect the value thereof.
(2) 
Attendance at an executive session shall be permitted to any member of the public body and any other persons authorized by the public body.
A. 
Minutes shall be taken at all open meeting of a public body, which shall consist of a record or summary of all motions, proposals, resolutions and any other matter formally voted upon and the vote thereon.
B. 
Minutes shall be taken at executive sessions of any action that is taken by formal vote, which shall consist of a record or summary of the final determination of such action and the date and vote thereon; provided, however, that such summary need not include any matter which is not required to be made public by the Freedom of Information Law.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Public Officers Law § 84 et seq.
C. 
Minutes of meetings of all public bodies shall be available to the public in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law within two weeks from the date of such meeting, except that minutes taken pursuant to Subsection B hereof shall be available to the public within one week from the date of the executive session.
A. 
Any aggrieved person shall have standing to enforce the provisions of this chapter against a public body by the commencement of a proceeding pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules and/or an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief.
B. 
In any such action or proceeding, a court shall have the power, in its discretion and upon good cause shown, to declare any action or part thereof taken in violation of this chapter void in whole or in part when that action, or substantial deliberations relating thereto, was taken or held in knowing violation of this chapter. Alternatively, the court may stay implementation of an action or part thereof and remand the action to the public body for reconsideration of the action. Any unintentional failure to fully comply with the notice provisions required by this chapter shall not alone be grounds for invalidating any action taken at a meeting of a public body. The provisions of this chapter shall not affect the validity of the authorization, acquisition, execution or disposition of a bond issue or notes.
C. 
Removal of members of public body.
(1) 
If a public body has been found in separate proceedings to have engaged in three or more knowing violations of this chapter, a court shall issue an order removing any member of the public body who participated in those violations as a member of such public body when such violations were committed;
(2) 
No violation of this chapter shall be considered to have been committed by a member of a public body when the member:
(a) 
Voted against closing a meeting or entering into an executive session;
(b) 
Was absent from a meeting that was found to have been in violation of this chapter; or
(c) 
Reasonably relied on a decision of a court or a written advisory opinion rendered by the Committee on Open Government.
(3) 
Any person removed from office pursuant to this section shall forfeit any right to serve on the public body from which he or she was removed or in any other capacity with such public body for a period ordered by the court, which shall be at least a period equal to the term of office of the position held by such person.
D. 
In any proceeding brought pursuant to this section, costs and reasonable attorney's fees may be awarded by the court, in its discretion, to the successful party.
E. 
The stature of limitations in an Article 78 proceeding with respect to an action taken at an executive session shall commence to run from the date the minutes of such executive session have been made available to the public.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed as extending the provisions hereof to:
A. 
Judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, except proceedings of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
B. 
Deliberations of political committees, conferences and caucuses. Notwithstanding any state law to the contrary, this exemption is to be narrowly, not expansively, construed; it shall apply solely to those meetings at which only political and not public business is discussed.
C. 
Any matter made confidential by federal or state law.