ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNMENT GENERALLY: VIRGINIA FREEDOM OF
Act's notice of meeting requirements met when public body notifies
correspondent that town council meets at same time and place on
certain day every month and gives notice of any special meetings.
Date, time and place of reconvened meeting may be announced at
regularly scheduled meeting; further written notice not required.
August 5, 1991
The Honorable R. Beasley Jones
Member, House of Delegates
You ask several questions concerning The Virginia Freedom of
Information Act (the "Act"), §§ 2.1-340 through 2.1-346.1
of the Code of Virginia. You first ask whether a public body, asked
to provide notice on a continual basis of meetings held by that body,
has complied with the Act by responding that the body meets "on the
second Tuesday of every month." You also ask whether, when notice has
properly been given for a public meeting, additional notice must be
given if the meeting is recessed and then reconvened on another
You state that a news correspondent for a radio station requested
that the local town council notify him of all council meetings. The
mayor responded by letter that the council meets on the second
Tuesday of each month, and that the correspondent would be notified
of any special meetings. You also state that the correspondent
contends that the Act requires notification "on a continual basis"
and the one letter mailed to the correspondent, described above, does
not satisfy that requirement.
You further state that the council recessed a regularly scheduled
meeting on April 9, 1991, and reconvened the meeting on April 23,
1991. No written notice was given to the correspondent of the
reconvened meeting, although the mayor announced in open session at
the conclusion of the April 9, 1991, meeting that the council would
reconvene on April 23, 1991.
II. Applicable Statute
Section 2.1-343 of the Act concerns public meetings and provides,
Notice including the time, date and place of each meeting
shall be furnished to any citizen of this Commonwealth who
requests such information. . . .
Requests to be notified on a continual basis shall be made at
least once a year in writing and include name, address, zip code
and organization of the requester. Notice, reasonable under the
circumstance, of special or emergency meetings shall be given
contemporaneously with the notice provided members of the public
body conducting the meeting.
III. Public Bodies Required to Give Notice of Meeting Dates;
Adequate Notice Given in Facts Presented
As discussed above, § 2.1-343 of the Act requires that notice
be given of the "time, date and place of each meeting" of a public
body to any citizen requesting that information, and also that
"[r]equests to be notified on a continual basis shall be made
at least once a year in writing and include name, address, zip code
and organization of the requester."
The purpose of the Act is to ensure "the people of this
Commonwealth . . . free entry to meetings of public bodies wherein
the business of the people is being conducted." Section 2.1-340.1. In
the facts you present, the correspondent asked to be notified of
council meetings. The mayor notified the correspondent that regular
council meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month and
that further notice would be provided of any special council
It is a well-established rule of statutory construction that
absurd results in construing statutes are to be avoided. McFadden
v. McNorton, 193 Va. 455, 461, 69 S.E.2d 445, 449 (1952); 86-87
Va. AG 307, 308. Nothing in the Act requires a public body to repeat
identical regular meeting notices when the correspondent could merely
mark his calendar to attend the meetings on the same day, at the same
time and place each month. It is my opinion, therefore, that the
requirements of the Act are met in the facts you present when the
public body notified the correspondent that the body meets at the
same time and place "on the second Tuesday of every month," and
notifies the requester of any special meetings.1
To require a public body to notify a requester prior to each
regularly scheduled meeting would impose a substantial administrative
burden upon public bodies that is not required by the Act.
IV. Date and Time of Reconvened Meeting May Be Announced at
Regularly Scheduled Meeting;Further Written Notice Not Required
A prior Opinion of this Office concerns facts substantively
similar to those you present and concludes that
[w]here the public has been given notice as
required by law in regard to a public hearing, I am of the opinion
that the hearing may be continued for conclusion to a date, time
and place certain in the future, provided that the governmental
body in question announces to the public at the public hearing the
need to recess and reconvene the public hearing. Unless otherwise
required by law, re-advertising the continued public hearing by
newspaper publication is not necessary and, in many cases, would
not be practical if the public hearing were recessed or adjourned
from day to day as permitted, for example, by § 15.1-162 of
the Code in local budget hearings.
72-73 Va. AG 489, 489-90.
Based on the above, it is my opinion that when notice has properly
been given for a public meeting, the requirements of the Act are
satisfied if the public body announces at that meeting the date, time
and place when the meeting will be reconvened. The continuance of a
meeting by a public body, however, should not be employed as a ruse
to avoid the notice requirements of the Act.
1. I am aware that a prior Opinion of this Office
concludes that former § 2.1-343 "permits an individual to
request the unit of government that he be notified on a continuous
basis of the time and place of each meeting of said governmental
body." See 72-73
Va. AG 494, 495. There is no indication in this prior Opinion
that the regular meeting notice provided by the mayor in your inquiry
was given. Likewise, there is no indication that regular, rather than
special, meetings were the subject of the prior Opinion.