The Alexandria City Council now has new rules for the way public hearings will be held in the future.
Mayor William D. Euille read the rules at the February public hearing, just before the public comment session began. “We passed this resolution in October and we are going to begin enforcing these rules today,” Euille said. “We believe that this will help us to get through our docket in a timely fashion and still allow for everyone who wishes to speak to do so.”
The public comment session will be held to 30 minutes. This part of each public hearing allows for members of the public to speak on any topic of interest to them, even though that topic is not part of the hearing docket.
“This will allow for 10 speakers to speak for three minutes each,” Euille said. “If there are additional speakers, they can speak at the end of the docket if they wish to wait.”
Each speaker who is signed up to speak on a particular docket item will be held to three minutes. “Anyone who feels that he or she needs more than three minutes must request additional time in writing and deliver this request to the City Clerk’s office by 5 p.m. the day before a public hearing. Council may give those individuals up to 15 minutes.”
NO SPEAKER can relinquish his time to another speaker on a specific item. “We hope that speakers who simply want to agree with other speakers who have spoken will not feel compelled to repeat things that have already been said,” Euille said. “We obviously want to hear from every citizen who wants to speak but we also want to move docket items along in an appropriate and respectful way.”
“Did we all vote on these,” asked Councilman Andrew Macdonald.
The answer was 'yes' and the vote was unanimous.
“In general, I think these are good rules,” said Councilman Paul Smedberg. “On some items, there are people who are involved on almost a day-to-day basis. These people should obviously have more time than those who are simply there to support them. I see no reason why a speaker can’t say that he or she has 25 neighbors there who support his or her position on a topic and simply ask those individuals to stand up. It allows us to hear from people and move things along so that those waiting to speak on other docket items can also be heard.”
Those who wish to review the rules can obtain a copy of the Council resolution from the City Clerk.