Two reprimands for violation of the state's open meetings laws that involve a building permit dispute in Parkston were issued by the state Open Meetings Commission in Sioux Falls Aug. 1.
The commission ruled that the Parkston Planning and Zoning Commission failed to give proper public notice of its Feb. 11, 2010, meeting. The commission also ruled the Parkston Board of Adjustment held an improper closed-door meeting on Nov. 9, 2010.
Both rulings relate to an open meetings law violation complaint brought by James Weiss, who had sought a building permit to move a storage shed in Parkston. His permit application was denied by the Planning and Zoning Commission and that decision later was upheld by the Board of Adjustment.
Members of the Parkston Planning and Zoning Commission were at the Nov. 9 meeting when the Parkston Board of Adjustment considered the appeal by Weiss on the building permit application. The Adjustment Board met in executive session with its attorney and members of the Planning and Zoning Commission for about 40 minutes.
"To invite Planning and Zoning members (into executive session) strikes me as being unfair," said Open Meetings Commission Chairman Mark Reedstrom, Grant County State's Attorney.
Weiss also alleged that the Planning and Zoning Commission should have provided public notice when its members attended the Nov. 9 Board of Adjustment meeting, but the Open Meetings Commission disagreed. The Commission said state law does permit members of one board to attend another public board's meeting and not provide public notice as long as the board does not take any official action.
In other matters before the Open Meetings Commission, the Lincoln Township Board in Brown County was reprimanded for not giving public notice for a series of meetings earlier this year. The township board did not contest the complaint, which was brought by Kelly Kenser.
The Open Meetings Commission delayed any decisions involving a complaint brought by Donald Peterson against the Silver Creek Township Board in Sanborn County. Peterson alleges the board failed to give public notice of a discussion and decision by two township board members to install a culvert on a township road. Peterson said the decision resulted in about 80 acres of his land being flooded.
Silver Creek Township Board members said they were under the impression that the decision to install a culvert was a routine maintenance matter involving less than $2,500 and therefore did not require an official board meeting.
Members of the Open Meetings Commission said they wanted more information about the complaint before making a decision.
The commission tentatively will meet in November.
Five state's attorneys, appointed by the South Dakota attorney general, serve on the Open Meetings Commission. They are: Reedstrom, Glenn Brenner of Pennington County, Lisa Rothschadl of Bon Homme County, Emily Sovell of Sully County, and John Steele of Aurora County.
Two-thirds of the cases brought before the South Dakota Open Meetings Commission the past seven years have resulted in rulings that the open meetings law was violated.