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Municipal Law

County Council’s Practice of Amending Agenda During Regularly Scheduled Meetings Not a Violation of the Freedom of Information Act

In Lambries v. Saluda County Council, the Supreme Court of South Carolina held that a County Council’s practice of amending the agenda of regularly scheduled meetings during those meetings did not violate the notice requirements under § 30-4-80 of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Saluda County Council amended its agenda during a regularly scheduled meeting to take up a resolution that the public had not been previously informed of, and unanimously passed the resolution during the meeting. Lambries sued for injunctive relief in the Circuit Court of Saluda County to prevent the County Council from amending its agenda during regularly scheduled meetings.

The Circuit Court denied Lambries’ request for injunctive relief; holding that S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-80 (2007) only requires an agenda for “called, special, or rescheduled meetings,” and not for “regularly scheduled meetings.” The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that “(1) an agenda is required for regularly scheduled meetings, and (2) [the] County Council’s amendment of an agenda less than twenty-four hours before the meeting violated the ‘spirit’ and ‘purpose’ of FOIA’s notice requirement.”

The Supreme Court sided with the Circuit Court, stating that “nowhere in FOIA is there a statement that an agenda is required for regularly scheduled meetings…we believe the legislative intent evidenced in the use of the phrase ‘if any’ is that the issuance of an agenda for regularly scheduled meetings lies within the discretion of County Counsel.” The Court continued: “[i]f the General Assembly wanted to require an agenda for regularly scheduled meetings, it could have done so with the simple use of the word “shall,” which generally signals a command.”

Thus, the Supreme Court held that the Freedom of Information Act does not contain a prohibition against amending an agenda for a regularly scheduled County Council meeting.

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The Barnwell County Council Cannot Also Be the Board of Trustees for the Barnwell County Hospital

In Alexander v. Houston, the supreme court examined the dual office prohibition, holding that the circuit court erred in dismissing the complaint where it sought a declaration that the Barnwell County Council violated the constitutional prohibition against dual office holding when the Council assumed positions as board members.

In 1998 the Council passed an ordinance creating the Board of Trustees for the Barnwell County Hospital. Continue reading

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“Whoops! We Didn’t Mean to Say ‘Torts’ When We Said It Before”

Shirley’s Iron Works, Inc. v. City of Union is the culmination of confusing language that existed in the opinion in Sloan Construction Co. v. Southco Grassing, Inc. (Sloan I), 377 S.C. 108, 659 S.E.2d 158 (2008), The Sloan I Court held that the Subcontractors’ and Suppliers’ Payment Protection Act (SPPA) creates an implied right for a contractor to sue a government agency.  The court based its holding on a third-party beneficiary contract theory, but the Court left a lot of confusion for subcontractors.

The confusion with the rule from Sloan I came from two different passages. Continue reading

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Don’t Believe What the Planning Committee Commissioner Says, Read the Ordinances that Are Not Available to the Public

Writing for a unanimous Court in Town of Hollywood v. Floyd, Chief Justice Toal rejected Floyd’s, a real estate developer, declaratory judgment claim and equal protection claim against the Town of Hollywood.

In February 2007, Floyd and other real estate developers (Collectively, Developers) entered into a contract to purchase a thirteen-acre tract on Bryan Road in the Town of Hollywood.  After, they filed an application with the Planning Commission to rezone the property for residential use.  On June 14, 2007, the Commission heard the matter. Continue reading

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