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Thread: Motion procedure for design approvals by your historic commission

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Motion procedure for design approvals by your historic commission

    Had an interesting question come up with one of my more... legalistic... preservation commissioners in regard to the motion procedure for a certificate of design compliance (you might call it a certificate of appropriateness) for building alterations in our historic district.

    It is quite common for our Commission to modify proposals, typically with the consent of the applicant, and then approve. This particular commissioner has asked whether there should first be an up or down vote on the proposal as presented. His thought process is that it would speed the process and avoid unnecessary modifications when the majority of the Commission is comfortable with the proposal as presented. If the approval motion failed, then they could consider a new motion to approve with specified modifications.

    I'm not sure what the best practice is in this case, so I'm punting to you folks for some feedback.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    So if the motion is made to approve the original proposal and that motion carries (without modifications) then, great. If that motion fails, then you look for modifications etc., and then a new motion (also for approval but with modifications). Am I reading that right?

    That seems reasonable. But if the idea were to vote truly "up or down" so that the original proposal is potentially voted down (not by a failure of a motion to approve but by the success of a motion to deny) to my way of thinking that proposal is dead and the idea of modifications is moot without a new application - maybe new notices etc. depending on the code. Maybe I'm missing something.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    So if the motion is made to approve the original proposal and that motion carries (without modifications) then, great. If that motion fails, then you look for modifications etc., and then a new motion (also for approval but with modifications). Am I reading that right?

    That seems reasonable. But if the idea were to vote truly "up or down" so that the original proposal is potentially voted down (not by a failure of a motion to approve but by the success of a motion to deny) to my way of thinking that proposal is dead and the idea of modifications is moot without a new application - maybe new notices etc. depending on the code. Maybe I'm missing something.
    Yes, you are reading that correctly. And I think the only way it works is with a motion to approve, as a motion to deny would technically kill the application.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    OK, yes. So it seems to me like it would be OK but if I understand the rules correctly you'd have to have the commission conduct it as a normal motion, second, vote. I have a commissioner who always wants to "straw poll" the commission and see if they should make a motion or not and I have to stop him. As long as it's conducted fully it would seem that it could prevent unnecessary modifications that are being made. I think that actually sounds like very good practice to me.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

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    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    Yes, you are reading that correctly. And I think the only way it works is with a motion to approve, as a motion to deny would technically kill the application.
    I'm with you on this interpretation.

    We provided recommendations to the Commission, that may or may not include modifications (we call them conditions), and let the Commission decide if the conditions are needed. We don't do "up or down" votes - it could kill the application, then it's back to start in the review cycle.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

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    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I've seen it done this way numerous times:

    Commissioner: "I move to approve the proposal based on staff's recommended findings and conditions with the following changes and modifications:
    1. Remove the Golden Arches
    2. Delete the yellow * after "Walmart"
    3. Substitute horizontal exterior wood siding for the split-faced concrete."

    You get the idea.
    RJ is the KING of . The One

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    My understanding of Robert's Rules is that there is no requirement to take and vote on an affirmative motion. Anyone can make a motion regarding the subject on the table - approve, disapprove, approve with conditions, table, postpone, etc. The committee then votes on the motion and it passes or does not. Another way may be to amend a motion, either by consent or by vote. Frankly, I do not see any advantage to what your committee member has proposed, except if s/he is perhaps trying to get motions passed as submitted by the applicant without giving people the opportunity to impose conditions.
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