Following a complaint lodged by a Revere Journal reporter alleging violation of the Open Meeting Law, the Site Plan Advisory Review Board has agreed to move its meeting location to the City Hall Chambers starting on Tuesday, March 6.
On Feb. 13, 2018, and on Feb. 20, news reporter Sue Ellen Woodcock attended a meeting of Revere’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board in the basement of 249R Broadway, Revere. This is on the lower level of the offices of the Veteran’s Department, the Health Department and the Building Department, 249R Broadway.
On Feb. 20, an informal complaint was given to the Site Plan Review Advisory Board, the city clerk, the city solicitor’s office and the mayor’s office.
As you walk in there are bathrooms to the right, go forward and you are at the open door off the Veterans Office to the right and the Building/Health Department service are to the left. Continue down the short hallway to a door that is closed and locked. You must go back to the Building /Health Service area to ask to be “buzzed” in.
Once past this door, there are cubicle office areas, and to the right is a small conference room.
People who come to this Advisory Board write their name on a sign up sheet. They wait in the hallway until their petition (there are some chairs) is to be heard. Then the door is opened by a man, and the applicant is escorted to the conference room.
The building inspector and the city planner run the meeting while the city planner making some notes. There are another three members of the board in the room.
The Site Plan Review Advisory Board is comprised of the city planner, building inspector, engineer, fire chief, health inspector, conservation commissioner, DPW superintendent, and a traffic representative from the police department.
The purpose of the advisory board is to advise business owners and developers big and small as to what is needed to develop and build in Revere. It is the first stop before the Planning Board and Zoning Board.
A telephone call was made to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Open Meeting Hotline, but no formal complaint was filed with the AG.
After a telephone conversation, case law was shared by the attorney general’s office, regarding a similar situation with the Melrose School Committee (OML 2012-46). It was then determined that the Revere Site Plan Review Advisory Board was in violation of the Open Meeting Laws due to its venue. The venue is clearly not freely open to the public it should be.
The Site Plan Review Advisory Board had 14 days from the date of receipt to rectify the violation before a formal complaint would be made.
On the afternoon of Feb. 20 City Planner Frank Stringi called the Journal and announced the board would be permanently moving their venue and complying with the law.
According to the Attorney General, the democratic process depends on the public having knowledge about the considerations underlying governmental action. The Open Meeting Law therefore requires that most meetings of public bodies be held in public. If you have questions about the Open Meeting Law, you may contact the Division of Open Government at (617) 963-2540 or [email protected]