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Thread: Do you set times for public hearings?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Do you set times for public hearings?

    This is more of a process question - do you set exact times for your public hearings related to development review? My staff is requesting to set the public hearing's w/o a specific time in order to make the meetings more efficient and to eliminate any gaps in the meeting agenda.

    I'm not sure this proposal complies with NYS Open Meeting Law and have requested an opinion from our attorney. At first glance I'm not in favor of this suggested approach as it feels like it would lead to much frustration from applicants.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    In Ohio we are just required to advertise the beginning of the meeting. If we have 4 items on the agenda we advertise all of them as starting at the same time. Truthfully, one item would start at 7:30, one at 8:00, and one at 8:30, etc. but we just say 7:00 pm. I have never heard of having to advertise for each item separately at a specific time. Interesting.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Our notices go like this: "The Board will ... at 6:30 P.M. or as soon thereafter as feasible". If the problem is your board not staying focused, rambling, etc. devise a training session to keep them on track and show the chair how to use the gavel.

  4. #4
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    I've always used the same process Hink describes. All public hearing agenda items are advertised at the start time of the meeting...that way, there is flexibility in the order of the agenda if needed, and it eliminates the wait time to start hearings if they each have their own start time (which used to be the case at my last job in the early 2000's, until I got them into advertising all hearings at the same time shortly after I started there).
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner View post
    I've always used the same process Hink describes. All public hearing agenda items are advertised at the start time of the meeting...that way, there is flexibility in the order of the agenda if needed, and it eliminates the wait time to start hearings if they each have their own start time (which used to be the case at my last job in the early 2000's, until I got them into advertising all hearings at the same time shortly after I started there).
    Same here, just advertise the start of the hearing. Never had any issues with it from applicants.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Our Zoning Board staggers the hearing times for each application as a convenience to the public and applicants. I think it works well, and don't see why it couldn't work for a more informal development review staff meeting.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    We typically just advertise the start and go from there. We have not experienced too many issues because of that.
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

  8. #8
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dw914er View post
    We typically just advertise the start and go from there. We have not experienced too many issues because of that.
    At my former employer, we used to advertise specific public hearing times, only 5 minutes apart. I always thought it was ridiculous and when I took over, no longer did the staggered times, and instead just advertised for when the meeting would begin.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    We advertise a single starting time for the planning commission meeting. I tend to put put hearings that will take just a few minutes on first, then follow them with the one that is going to have the most people present, so they don't have to wait through everything else. Although, if I think a little education on procedure and process would be helpful for the crowd, I put them after one or two hearings that function as demonstrations of how we conduct hearings. I try not to punish the applicants who have proven themselves to be @$$holes by putting them on after a long and boring hearing, but sometimes that's just the way it works out.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Interesting. The few places I've worked always set specific times for each different case. If we do decide to move in this direction I can see the need for educating the applicants. I can already foresee the complaints about having to be there at 5:15 and not getting heard until 8pm. I suppose we can always do it on a test basis.

  11. #11
    Everything gets set for the start time of the meetings (7:00 PM). Every public hearing notice then has a paragraph that reads:

    The (enter board or commission name) has scheduled other public hearings for (enter date) at 7:00 PM. This hearing may begin at 7:00 PM or as soon as possible following the conclusion of other public hearings.
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  12. #12
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    my last Board did an agenda check at the 2 hour point and decided how much more they would get through to not exceed the 4 hour mark - that way people didn't sit around only to be continued to the next meeting...

    it seemed to work well

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    my last Board did an agenda check at the 2 hour point and decided how much more they would get through to not exceed the 4 hour mark - that way people didn't sit around only to be continued to the next meeting...

    it seemed to work well
    I like that (and having a 4-hour limit at all).

    Most cities around here have a single start time, everyone just lives with the wait. Pros can judge how far down the agenda they are and show up later, at some risk . Dallas council meets for the whole day, but zoning and public hearings are set in the afternoon session "no earlier than 1 PM".

  14. #14
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    We advertised the start of the meeting and the agenda on line the week before the meeting.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    Our State law requires posting all public meetings 72 in advance of the meeting. We list the agenda, meeting location, and start time only.

    State law also requires a quorum to be present and the meeting start by 30 minutes after the posted start time. If you do not have a quorum 31 minutes after the start time, the meeting is a bust and the entire agenda must be heard at a new meeting. New meeting = starting over with the posting timeline, etc.

    I have never been to a public meeting where each agenda item had a start time. I've worked for 5 cities, and each one did the same thing - post the agenda with a start time only. Each agenda has sections, which include briefings, consent items, discussion items, miscellaneous, and other categories depending on the specific board/commission.

    Most of our commissions will make motions to move items up on the agenda based on applicant/interest party attendance. If you're there and sign up to speak, you have a good chance of moving up. No speakers mean you'll be at the end.
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  16. #16
    On our deadline calendar, notices to applicant and property owners state 6:30 PM start time for the Planning Commission and 4:00 PM for the Board of Zoning Appeals. Our agendas are made available to the public one or two days prior to the meeting, typically Thursday or Friday morning prior to Monday's meeting.

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