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Meeting scrapped over concerns
Wary of complaint, officials opt out
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County again canceled a public meeting due to a complaint that proper notice had not been provided.

The Zoning Board of Appeals monthly meeting was called off before it began Tuesday night — and about 20 minutes after its scheduled 7 p.m. start time.

Following the delay, Chairman Jim Kinsey announced to those in attendance that the county had received a complaint prior to the meeting.

The complaint maintained the agenda for the meeting had not been posted in the correct location and sufficient access had not been provided.

Following a discussion involving Kinsey, the county attorney and senior staff members, officials decided it would be best to cancel the meeting.

"We have had a couple of citizens in our county who are adhering to minute details of the public meeting act," Kinsey said.

"A complaint [to the state attorney general’s office] is imminent if we hold this meeting tonight, which could result in more complications, more attorney time, more defense of county activities in an already tight budget year."

If the meeting’s validity were to be overturned by the attorney general, Kinsey explained, any decisions made would have become null and void, resulting in potential problems for applicants.

Those at the meeting voiced frustration with their applications being postponed.

Wednesday morning, the county announced that the Zoning Board of Appeals would hold a special called meeting at 4 p.m. today in the planning department conference room.

The meeting’s purpose will be to consider a date to hear the items delayed as a result of the cancelation.

The Zoning Board of Appeals holds public hearings and issues decisions on most variance requests and appeals of administrative decisions.

"It’s just a technicality," Kinsey said Tuesday night of the complaint. "It’s on the Internet. All of the cases are in the newspaper, listed in the order of the meeting.

"It’s not like there isn’t access to the information, but the open meetings act is specific."

County Attorney Ken Jarrard, who was at the meeting Tuesday, said Wednesday that county officials received the complaint shortly after 5 p.m.

The notice had been posted in the planning department, to which the complainant said the doors had been locked for a period of time prior to the meeting, Jarrard said.

"It wasn’t a matter of getting it posted somewhere else," he said. "It was a matter of whether there had been an uninterrupted availability of the agenda at the site."

The agenda and notice had been posted well in advance of the required 24 hours, he added.

This is not the first time that county officials have canceled a meeting due to a complaint regarding proper public notice.

A planning commission meeting in March was called off following a similar complaint.

"The only thing that keeps happening is the county is taking extraordinary steps to ensure that every complaint is addressed," Jarrard said.

"The county is not conceding that there was an open meetings violation, the county is simply taking proactive steps to ensure that every citizen complaint is responded to."