Dunwoody City Council’s private meeting wasn’t allowed

The Dunwoody City Council violated Georgia’s Open Meetings Act when it held closed-door discussions about the role of a homeowners association in government, according to a letter from the Georgia Attorney General’s Office.

State law prohibits conversations about policies and procedures during executive session, wrote Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Colangelo in an Oct. 3 letter to the city’s attorney.

The City Council was permitted to talk in private June 13 about a potential conflict of interest with the Dunwoody Homeowners Association in relation to a pending lawsuit over a zoning decision for a daycare provider, Colangelo wrote. But discussions about how to handle similar situations in the future should have been held in public.

“Council members should always be aware of their legal duty to have such conversations in public, and the council should end its executive session discussion when discussion goes beyond the confines of the actual or threatened lawsuit,” Colangelo wrote.

The Attorney General’s Office reviewed the issue in response to a complaint from The Dunwoody Crier.

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During the executive session, city officials discussed whether a zoning board member should also be serving as a board member for the HOA.

Mayor Denis Shortal then asked several HOA members to either resign from the association or city boards. That directive didn’t last for long, as Shortal and the City Council voted unanimously June 24 to suspend the HOA purge.

To resolve the open meetings issue, Colangelo recommended that the City Council and city employees participate in a 90-minute training session on open government.

“The city is cognizant of the delicate nature of executive session discussions, and we are working to coordinate schedules for an opportunity to participate in the voluntary open government training which the assistant attorney general proposes within the letter,” said Dunwoody spokesman Bob Mullen in a statement Friday.

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