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City Council acknowledges Open Meeting Law violation, proposes fix

Boston City Council agendas will be scrutinized by a proofreader before being posted to reduce mistakes and avoid violations of the state’s Open Meeting Law, according to a letter Tuesday from the city’s Law Department to the state attorney general’s office.

The change was prompted by allegations from a medical marijuana group.

The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance accused the council of violating the law by failing to provide 48 hours’ public notice before voting earlier this month on buffer zones for marijuana dispensaries.

The city said it was an honest mistake. A typographical error led to the wrong item being copied onto the printed agenda that was circulated to councilors, the city’s letter states. The city clerk discovered the mistake about 90 minutes after the agenda was posted and corrected the online version, the letter said.


“Nevertheless, we acknowledge that the mistake means that this item was not noticed for 48 hours as required by law,” states the letter from Adam Cederbaum, of the Law Department.

His proposed solution for resolving the patient group’s complaint includes a new process for notifying each councilor if a mistaken agenda is issued. Any uncorrected copies would be retrieved “to give councilors clear notice of issues with an agenda in advance to allow them to consider ways to deal with the mistake, including postponing action,” the letter says.

The council approved a rule that would require marijuana dispensaries to be at least half a mile apart. The buffer zone regulation must be signed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and be approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Zoning Commission, to take effect.

In its complaint about the open meeting violation, the patient group asked that the council be ordered to take another vote on the measure, after holding another meeting for the public to comment.


Cederbaum’s letter instead proposes that the group be placed on a list to receive “ample notice of any opportunity to provide comment before any city commission or agency takes a binding vote or recommendation on the matter.”

Nichole Snow, executive director of the patient alliance, said her group will consult its advisory board before deciding its next step.

Kay Lazar can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.