Here’s a copy of an e-mail that I sent to County Administrator Percy Ashcraft on September 25th:
Dear Mr. Ashcraft,
What was the total cost of adopting the ordinances that vacated Saddlehorse Farms and the other subdivision owned by the Farmers?
This request for information includes, but is not limited to: the cost for advertising the public hearing, any cost for legal services by the county attorney (not asking for the privileged work of the county attorney, just the cost), as well as the waiver of fees to the Farmers for the Planning Commission hearings that had to be conducted.
When will the county be taking action against the other six (or more) subdivisions that were identified to also be in violation of the subdivision code? Surely the Board does not intend to selectively and vindictively prosecute one person.
Here’s the response I received from the county attorney, Benjamin Emerson, via snail mail today [emphasis mine] (PDF link):
Dear Mr. Watson:
As I believe you are aware, this firm and I represent Caroline County as its County Attorneys. Your e-mailed request for information to Mr. Ashcraft was referred to me for response as a request under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).
Your e-mail inquires as to the cost of adopting certain ordinances vacating the Saddlehorse Farms subdivision and other subdivisions being developed by the Farmers, and includes other questions.
Among other things and with certain exceptions and limitations, FOIA requires that public records of public bodies be open and made available to citizens of the Commonwealth for inspection upon request being made for such records with reasonable specificity. It does not require the public body to compile records, to create records that do not exist, or to respond to questions in general that are not requests for specific documents or existing records.
Because your inquiry consists of questions to which you have requested answers, it is not subject to FOIA.
Benjamin W. Emerson
Well, the county just managed to get their butts sued over this issue.
And for the record, anyone think that payments made to The Caroline Progress aren’t public records?
I guess the judge in Caroline County General District Court will be deciding that.