Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Region Ten: Just another criminal agency

ACLU joins fight for Region Ten info: Neighbors say Region Ten held illegal closed meeting

BY MEG MCEVOY, Cville Weekly
Issue #18.30 :: 07/24/2006 - 07/31/2006

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote a letter on Monday, July 17, to the Region Ten Community Services Board requesting they provide a list of things discussed at a closed meeting that took place on February 13. The meeting concerned The Mews at Little High project, a much-contested residential community for people with mental disabilities. The Little High Area Neighborhood Association (LHANA) asked the ACLU to join in on the fight for information — LHANA has long protested The Mews, saying that, since the land changed ownership before building began, the project requires a public hearing and new review by the Charlottesville Planning Commission.

Rebecca Glenberg, legal director for the ACLU in Richmond, says the organization was “troubled” by the apparent secrecy surrounding Region Ten’s meeting. “We’re always concerned about open government issues, and we have always advocated for the Freedom of Information Act to be interpreted as broadly as possible,” she says.

If Region Ten does not respond to the FOIA request, they could end up in court again. LHANA took Region Ten to court in June, requesting all documents related to The Mews project, which were eventually submitted. The ACLU says it would have to weigh whether to join LHANA in court if Region Ten doesn’t turn over information about the closed meeting.

Mark Haskins, president of LHANA, says, “[The ACLU] are not prone to just take up anything. They look for cases that represent important civil liberty issues.”

Caruso Brown, interim director of Region Ten, did not return calls by press time.


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