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Thread: Public Hearing comment guidelines

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
    Jun 2002
    Southeast US

    Public Hearing comment guidelines

    What are the guidelines for comments to be received at Public Hearings?

    Are there guidelines that the Chairman should announce at the beginning of a Public Hearing that would explain types of comments that are requested in order to expedite the process?

    For instance, I think it is not the purpose of a Public Hearing for the public to just object or support an application. In my mind we should be having a Public Hearing in order for an opportunity for the public to bring to our attention any previously unknown or private contractual situation bearing on the use of the land. It might even be that the property has been previously platted or zoned or has a recorded conditional use, or is otherwise legally restricted, but overlooked.

    Some of our Public Hearings get personal and adversarial rather than pointing out legitimate concerns that should be addressed. What guidelines would help here?

    Some of the public comments are repetitious and long winded and opinionated.

    Should the guidelines be in printed form and available at the door?

    Should all comments be addressed to the Chairman for response by the city or applicant?

    Should all comments be heard, then let the applicant respond if he wishes? Should there then be further opportunity to comment?

  2. #2
    Nov 2005
    In the Peach State
    It depends on the context of the public comments. Where I work we have zoning meetings separated from other business of the elected officials.

    For the zoning meeting:
    • Opposition is given 10 minutes collectively
    • There is no rebuttal
    • Participants are asked not to repeat the same thing someone else said
    • A head count is given so elected officials can see the total number of people supporting or opposing an application since not everyone can speak

    For regular (non-zoning) meetings:
    • People are given 3 minutes to talk about whatever they want
    • Comments must be directed to the Chairman
    • People are usually called out of order is they are not following proper protocol

    This provides a small level of order to the public opinion process but also makes sure people have the chance to be heard. There are lots of other variations on how other organizations take care of these issues and I am interested to see what is said. People are informed verbally about the rules governing public comment at every meeting.

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