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Stellar committee did not violate Open Door Law
Updated on: 06.24.14

The Indiana public access counselor has ruled that the Nashville Stellar Communities committee did not violate the Open Door Law when it met several times early this spring without announcing its meetings to the public.

Luke Britt's advisory opinion says that the committee is not subject to the Open Door Law because it is not a governing body.

To be a governing body, the committee would have to have been appointed directly by a public agency that is subject to the Open Door Law -- such as the town council or county commissioners.

"The Stellar Committee appears to be borne out of volunteers from various community agencies and is not galvanized under one agency's particular banner," Britt writes. "Therefore, the Committee is not a delegation or sub-committee at all, but rather a community action group or an association of volunteers. These types of entities are not contemplated by the Open Door Law or the Access to Public Records Act."

He also notes that in a previous, unrelated opinion, he advised a majority of one governing body against attending another organization's meeting because that could be construed as a meeting of that governing body. "As the Committee could be discussing public business in their meetings, area public officials should be mindful of these considerations," he said.

The opinion, filed June 23, was a response to two formal complaints filed by attorney Wanda Jones against the Town of Nashville, the Nashville-Brown County Stellar Committee and the Nashville Town Council.

She alleged the groups violated the Open Door Law by not posting formal public notice of Stellar committee meetings in February, March and April.

Jones said people were denied access to an April 23 committee meeting at the County Office Building because the outside doors were locked. Area Plan Director David Woods said that was an accident. He had directed that the doors be locked before a contentious Board of Zoning Appeals meeting that evening because he'd heard people were planning to save spaces for people who supported their views in an attempt to sway the board's decision. He said he didn't know that a Stellar meeting was happening in the same room at 4 p.m.

The Stellar committee has posted all its meetings after May 27 as open to the public.

Jones also alleged that the town violated the Access to Public Records Act by directing inquiries from Jones' firm for certain records to the town's attorney, when requests from other people for the same records had been fulfilled by town employees.

Britt's opinion does not address this complaint directly, only saying that the Stellar committee is not a public agency.

-- Sara Clifford, Brown County Democrat

  • March 6
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • March 6
    'SpongeBob Movie' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • March 6
    Live band at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • March 7
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • March 7
    Meet your legislators at County Office Building
    10 a.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • March 7
    Meet 'Wilderness Plots' author at the library
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • March 7
    Music celebration at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • March 7
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • March 7
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • March 8
    'Wilderness Plots'-themed concert planned
    4 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • March 8
    Brown County bridal tour slated
    10 a.m. to 6 p.m. various locations
  • March 8
    'SpongeBob Movie' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • March 9
    Beeline beekeepers club
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • March 10
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • March 10
    Soil & water conservation district to celebrate 62 years
    6 p.m. Brown County History Center, 90 E. Gould
  • March 10
    Nashville Parking & Public Facilities
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • March 10
    Widowed group euchre party
    1 p.m. Sycamore Valley Community Center, 746 Memorial Drive
  • March 10
    Peaceful Valley Heritage meeting
    6:30 p.m. Brown County Presbyterian Fellowship, 602 State Road 135 North
  • March 10
    CSCD Roads, Security commissions
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. CSCD Office, 8377 Cordry Drive; CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • March 11
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • March 12
    Rotary Club
    7:15 a.m. Artist Colony Inn, 105 S. Van Buren St.
  • March 12
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • March 12
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • March 13
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North.
  • March 14
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • March 14
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • March 18
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • March 19
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • March 20
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • March 20
    Widowed group
    12:20 p.m. Brown County IGA parking lot, 30 Hawthorne Dr.; St. David's Episcopal Church, 11 State Road 45 at 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • March 21
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • March 21
    Jackson Township VFD yard sale
    8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jackson Township Fire Department, 4831 Helmsburg Road
  • March 27
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 9
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 24
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 25
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 26
    County history center dedication slated
    2 p.m. Brown County History Center, 90 E. Gould
  • April 26
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont