Public Temporarily Locked Out of Planning Commission Meeting

Anyone looking to wander into the Planning Commission meeting Saturday to keep an eye on that body’s work on the county’s next comprehensive plan would have been greeted with locked doors for part of the meeting.

Although under state law, meetings of public bodies are required to be open to the public, the doors on the county government center in Leesburg stayed locked Saturday morning. The meeting started at 9 a.m., when county staff members and the sheriff’s deputy on duty at the building let people into the building; after that, anyone trying to get in would have to catch the attention of someone inside. Doors were unlocked by 11 a.m.

County Public Information Officer Glen Barbour said the county is looking into whether there was a miscommunication among county staff on unlocking the doors, which lock automatically outside business hours and on weekends.

“At this point, I don’t know what happened, but we are looking into the cause of the issue so that it can be prevented from happening again,” Barbour said by email. “Concurrently, I have had conversations with staff about how we can improve our processes related to this issue so that we can ensure this does not occur in the future.”

Those changes, he wrote, could include strengthening the request process for changing the doors’ automatic locking schedule and improved training for county staff members.

“I can assure you that the County takes this issue seriously and that we are working now to ensure locked doors do not interfere with public access to meetings in the future,” Barbour wrote.

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