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Public Participation Guidelines

Public Participation Guidelines


RESOLUTION
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION GUIDELINES


            WHEREAS members of the Prince George County community, its elected officials, and County staff place a high value on constructive and thoughtful debate on public issues and the Board of Supervisors encourages all citizens to present their views and strives to ensure that everyone who wishes to speak at meetings of the Board of Supervisors will have a reasonable opportunity to do so; and 

            WHEREAS in an effort to conduct effective and efficient meetings, the Board of Supervisors’ meeting agenda includes an opportunity for general public comment on items not scheduled for public hearing as well as opportunities to speak on items that are subject to a public hearing, in each case, subject to the guidelines set forth in this Resolution. 

             NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Supervisors hereby adopts the following guidelines for public participation at meetings of the Board of Supervisors:  

1.         When speaking before the Board of Supervisors, citizens are asked to state their name and home address.  There is a residency/property ownership requirement to speak at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors.  Only those persons who can provide verifiable proof of residency or property ownership in Prince George County shall be permitted to participate in the public comment period.  Non-residents may submit written comments prior to the meeting for distribution to the Board.

2.         Speakers are permitted a maximum of three (3) minutes.  If a speaker is representing a group from Prince George County, that speaker shall be permitted a maximum of five (5) minutes.  Where a speaker represents a group, no other member of the group shall be permitted to speak on the same topic.  

3.         General Public Comment is provided as a means for a citizen to address the Board about any issue of concern not listed on the agenda as a separate public hearing. It is not provided as a question and answer period or for a conversation between the Board and the speaker.

4.          Citizens may only speak once during the comment period and once during each public hearing.  Speakers may not yield time to other citizens.

5.         Comments must be germane to the services or policies of the county or the purpose of the public hearing. Citizens are not permitted to campaign for public office.  The use of profane, vulgar, obscene, or threatening speech is not permitted and may result in removal from the meeting. Speakers may not use language of a personal nature which insults or demeans any person or which, when directed at a public official or County staff, is not related to his or her official duties.  Speakers shall not promote private businesses or address pending litigation when providing comments.  

6.         Speakers shall not be permitted to use audiovisual material or other visual displays such as signs, but may present written and photographic materials to the Board members.  

7.         Speakers should be respectful of other opinions and viewpoints expressed at the meeting and the audience should not make audible expressions of support (i.e. applause) or expressions of opposition during meetings.  Speakers should also strive to avoid repetitive comments.  Simple statements of endorsement of previous speakers are appreciated and appropriate.  Speakers should address comments to the Board of Supervisors and not the audience.

8.         Citizens are encouraged to submit written comments; the comments will be made a part of the public record.

9.         For zoning matters where a public hearing has been advertised, the planning staff shall be called upon by the Chairman to introduce the topic.  Then the applicant shall be permitted to speak on behalf of his application. Next the public hearing shall be opened.  At the conclusion of the public hearing, the applicant shall be provided with the opportunity to answer questions or provide additional information.

10.         The Board of Supervisors, by a majority vote, reserves the right to temporarily, or permanently change these participation guidelines.      

11.         For accommodations to participate in public comment or a specific public hearing, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, please contact the Clerk to the Board prior to the meeting so that appropriate arrangements may be made.

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