Walmart to hold meetings with city

A city attorney’s warning isn’t expected to keep Minot City Council and Planning Commission members from attending informational meetings hosted by Walmart next Tuesday.

Walmart is holding a series of meetings that day to explain its proposed store development on 21st Street Northwest. In March, the planning commission voted to hold Walmart’s zoning request and plan review to allow staff more time to visit with company representatives on a variety of concerns.

City attorney John Van Grinsven has been advising council and commission members this week that a quorum of either board at any of the meetings would constitute a public meeting under the state’s open meetings law. Such meetings must be open to the public and minutes taken.

A quorum of the city council is eight members, although a quorum of members of a city committee also might be construed as a public meeting. Thus, no more than four council members from the same committee could be at a meeting. A quorum of the planning commission is seven.

Van Grinsven did not discourage attendance but warned about the potential for a violation of the open meetings law. Council members indicated an interest in attending but also an interest in avoiding a quorum.

However, council member Larry Frey questioned the need for a private meeting.

“They can do that informing right here in this room,” he said at a Finance and Improvements Committee meeting in council chambers Monday.

Van Grinsven noted that Walmart has the right to visit with council or commission members individually.