VIRGINIA FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. MINUTES. PLANNING COMMISSION
PUBLIC BODY FOR PURPOSES OF ACT AND MUST RECORD MINUTES AT ALL PUBLIC
October 31, 1984
The Honorable Mitchell Van Yahres Member, House of Delegates
This is in response to your request for my opinion whether the
Albemarle County Planning Commission ("ACPC") is required by Virginia
law to record minutes of its meetings.
You specifically cite for my consideration §15.1-444(d) of
the Code of Virginia. This section requires a planning commission to
"[k]eep a complete record of its proceedings; and be
responsible for the custody and preservation of its papers and
documents." The facts which you present indicate that the ACPC has
tape recordings and rough notes of its proceedings; however, no
formal, written minutes are available at present for the time period
of October 1982 through August 1984. The president of Citizens for
Albemarle, Inc. has suggested that you propose an amendment to
§15.1-444(d), requiring planning commissions to keep "minutes"
of all proceedings.
All public bodies are required by law to record minutes at all
public meetings. See §2.1-343, a part of the Virginia Freedom of
Information Act, §§2.1-340 through 2.1-346.1 (the "Act").
The ACPC is a "public body" for purposes of the Act and is,
therefore, subject to the requirements of the Act. See
§2.1-341(a), (e). The General Assembly has determined that the
provisions of the Act are to be liberally construed so that citizens
are afforded the opportunity to witness the operations of government.
See §2.1-340.1; see also 1979-1980 Report
of the Attorney General at 236. It is my opinion, therefore, that
in addition to the record-keeping requirements of §15.1-444(d),
the ACPC must keep minutes of all public meetings in order to meet
its obligation under the Act. See 1978-1979
Report of the Attorney General at 313.
The Act does not specify the form "minutes" must take. In the
absence of statutory direction to the contrary, tape recorded minutes
would comply with the requirements of the Act, inasmuch as recording
is an acceptable method of memorializing a meeting. See 1983-1984
Report of the Attorney General at 441. Section 2.1-341(b) defines
"official records" as being inclusive of tapes and sound recordings;
hence, applies to recorded minutes of a meeting. It should be noted,
however, that §2. l-342(a) requires a public body to make
official records available for copying, as well as inspection. Such a
requirement should be considered by a public body when determining
the form for preparing minutes of its proceeding.