Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors will start the new year with new, self-imposed restrictions on its meeting agendas. Last minute additions and adjustments to items on the agenda will no longer be permitted after the official board packet is finalized and published, which is typically the Thursday before a regularly scheduled meeting.
The restriction was a prerogative of Chair Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) last month, and the Jan. 3 meeting is the board’s first one under the new rule.
Randall said last-minute agenda changes deny proper access to the public. She also said board members, herself included, struggle conducting meetings when handed last-minute adjustments.
“I’ve literally seen people studying that paper when we’re on an item that’s just got handed to them as they’re trying to understand the rest of the agenda, so it’s not fair to anybody,” Randall said. “It’s not fair to the public, the press or the people on the dais.”
Randall said she hasn’t received any negative push back from the change, and board Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) also supports it.
The change may have the most noticeable bearing on complex land use matters before the board, and last minute negotiate changes. The deadlines imposed by a meeting’s critical action date in some cases served as a catalyst to resolve differences between county staff and applicants. At the board’s Dec. 2 meeting, for example, applicants representing Catesby Farms made final adjustments moments before the meeting that helped decided the fate of the application for a special exception application. Supervisors were handed papers with the proposed changes that were eventually approved, but they did so without a chance to study them or for the public to see what was proposed. Randall said situations like this will happen no more.
“If this pushes (applicants) past their critical action date, they should know that in advance,” Randall said.