The Dunwoody City Council violated the Open Meetings Act when it met in executive session and determined that members of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association should not serve on city boards, according to a letter from the state Attorney General’s office.

The letter from Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Colangelo to Assistant City Attorney Lenny Felgin stated that while the council met June 13 in a closed-door executive session to discuss litigation, the council violated the Open Meetings Act when conversation veered to discussion about the roles DHA members should play on volunteer city boards and commissions, such as the Planning Commission and Zoning Review Board. That discussion led Mayor Shortal to call several DHA members and ask them to either resign from DHA or their city board post.

“When a discussion in executive session moves from a specific litigation matter to a discussion of policy or procedural changes that should be made to avoid a hypothetical future harm, the executive session should be terminated and the discussion moved to the open session,” Colangelo wrote in the Oct. 3 letter to Felgin.

“Even if no votes are taken, a discussion of this type is not authorized in executive session,” she stated.

Colangelo recommended the council participate in Open Government training with the Attorney General’s office.

Bob Mullen, city spokesperson, said the council will participate in the training.

“The city is cognizant of the delicate nature of executive session discussions and we are working to coordinate schedules for an opportunity to participate in the voluntary Open Government training which the Assistant Attorney General proposes within the letter,” he said.

In a lengthy letter, Felgin denied the council violated the Open Meetings Act.

After backlash from DHA members to the directive its members resign from city boards, the City Council voted to suspend the policy. Only one DHA member, Gerri Penn, resigned after receiving the call from Shortal.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.