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PR 17-40 Grieb v. Aquidneck Island Planning Commission

This Department received a request for an advisory opinion by the AIPC and two APRA and OMA complaints filed against the AIPC all of which raised the same threshold questions: whether the AIPC was a "public body" under the OMA or the APRA. With respect to the OMA analysis, based on Solas v. Emergency Hiring Council, 774 A.2d 820 (R.I. 2001) and Pontarelli v. Rhode Island Board Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, 151 A.3d 301 (R.I. 2016), we looked to the AIPC's scope of authority, legal status, and independence from governmental entities. The evidence demonstrated that the AIPC is a duly incorporated nonprofit organization that selects its own leadership, establishes its own programs and priorities without consultation, amendment, or review by any municipality, and does not perform delegated public business. Accordingly, we found that the AIPC is not a "public body" under the OMA. See R.I. Gen. Laws 42-46-2(3). We next considered whether the AIPC is a "public body" under the APRA. Based on Reilly & Olneyville Neighborhood Association v. Providence Department of Planning and Development and/or Providence Redevelopment Agency, PR 09-07B and In re: Newport Public Library, ADV PR 14-04, we looked to whether the AIPC acted "on behalf of and/or in place of any public agency" such that it had entered into an agency-type relationship with a governmental entity. R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-2(1). The evidence indicated that the AIPC is a separate and independent entity without an established agency relationship with any governmental entity, having sole and exclusive control over its budget and finances. As such, we found that AIPC is not a "public body" under the APRA. Therefore, we found no violations.

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