Everybody Out! Closed-Door Meetings Should Be Used Sparingly

 At a Planning Board meeting in a small Massachusetts town, the members reached  an agenda item pertaining to a rather complicated land deal that involved the  purchase of hundreds of acres of lakefront property.  

 The Planning Board chairman called for a roll-call vote [required by state law]  to go into executive session and those visitors attending the meeting were  asked to leave. After the vote, a local environmental activist loudly  proclaimed she was not pleased at having to leave the meeting – and within days, individual board members were contacted by the state attorney  general’s office. In the end, it was determined that no violations of state law had  occurred, but the ordeal left Planning Board members shaken.  

 So what does this have to do with community associations, which are private entities, and their board meetings?

 Two New England states have adopted rules regarding open meetings at community  associations, one very recently, making it more difficult to use these types of  sessions.  

 In addition, political resistance to closed meetings is growing, along with  advice that boards use them sparingly, or face an unwelcome response from unit  owners.  

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