From: Jobin-Davis, Camille (DOS)
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2011 4:46 PM
Subject: New York State Law - meeting room size
Thank you for your voice mail message and I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to reply. We’re an
office of two, and the Exec Director is out this week so things are a bit backed up.
In response, please note Section 103(d) of the NYS Open Meetings Law, which was added to the Law
in April of 2010:
“(d) Public bodies shall make or cause to be made all reasonable efforts to ensure that meetings
are held in an appropriate facility which can adequately accommodate members of the public who
wish to attend such meetings.”
The intent of the amendment, as expressed in the accompanying legislative memorandum, is for
public bodies to hold meetings in rooms that can reasonably accommodate the number of people
that can reasonably be expected to attend. For example, if a typical board meeting attracts 20
attendees, and meetings are held in a meeting room which accommodates approximately 30
people, there is adequate room for all to attend, listen and observe. But in the event that there is
a contentious issue on the agenda and there are indications of substantial public interest,
numerous letters to the editor, phone calls or emails regarding the topic, or perhaps a petition
asking officials to take action, the new provision would require the public body to consider the
number of people who might attend the meeting and take appropriate action to hold the meeting
at a location that would accommodate those interested in attending, such as a school facility, a fire
hall or other site.
Changing the location of a meeting may require providing notice of the new location, which would
be required to comply with the Open Meetings Law.
Accordingly, if the public body can reasonably expect one or two hundred people to attend the
meeting, as in your example, based on information from various media outlets and communications
with the public, it would have a responsibility to take reasonable efforts to hold the meeting in a
location that could reasonably accommodate the attendees.
Hope it helps –
Camille S. Jobin-Davis, Esq.
NYS Committee on Open Government
Department of State
99 Washington Ave, Suite 650
Albany NY 12231