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Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or pgould@freelancestar.com. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or rsidersky@freelancestar.com.

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Business prospects and open meetings

Spotsylvania reporter Dan Telvock writes in today’s paper about a closed session Spotsylvania County had last month to discuss incentives for Creative Dimension Group.

The supervisors voted to enter the closed session under exemption No. 5 in the state’s open meetings law (read it here), which states that meetings may be closed for "Discussion concerning a prospective business or industry or the expansion of an existing business or industry where no previous announcement has been made of the business’s or industry’s interest in locating or expanding its facilities in the community."

We brought this same code section to Fredericksburg officials’ attention a few weeks ago, when they overlooked the fact that a business they discussed in closed session–the Blue and Gray Brewing Co.–had already announced its plans and had applied for zoning permits from the city. We got a quick response and acknowledgement of the oversight from the city manager. Read more about that here.

Telvock raised questions about Spotsylvania’s Aug. 12 closed session about CDG because this group’s wishes to expand in this region had already been made public. We first wrote about them here. Fredericksburg approved an incentives package for the group after it told them it could not find space to expand in Spotsylvania.

We discovered that CDG was the business discussed in the Spotsylvania closed session after learning via contacts in the city that this group had decided not to move out of the county, after all, and had in fact been awarded incentives there (To read more about that complicated scenario, go here.).

CDG was not named or identified in any way when the supervisors approved a $250,000, up-front incentive grant to bring it to the county.

Spotsylvania’s county attorney maintains that the closed session was legal.

Having seen this timeline of events, do you think the Spotsylvania Supervisors were right in approving a closed meeting to discuss CDG, under the assertion that, "no previous announcement has been made of the business’s or industry’s interest in locating or expanding its facilities in the community?"

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/citybeat/2008/09/03/business-prospects-and-open-meetings/