At the February 7, 2007 meeting of the
Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
there was a discussion about improving the public’s access to matters raised under the category of “other business.” This has typically been a time reserved late in the meeting for ad-hoc informational items and committee reports, the details of which are not published on the meeting agenda. The Board reached consensus to move other business and committee reports both to the beginning of future meetings for the benefit of the public who are often in attendance at the start but not at the very end of a meeting.
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The matter was raised by Supervisor David Wyant (White Hall) who said he wanted ensure an adequate opportunity for public comment immediately after the discussion of other business items. In the discussion, other Supervisors expressed support for the change but emphasized that any substantive matters requiring a vote should really be on the published agenda and thus provided to the public and staff well in advance.
In December, Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna) made motions late in a meeting which led to the County
joining the Chamber of Commerce
and to the creation of a $250,000 “
jobs development opportunity fund
.” In January, Supervisor David Wyant made a motion to proceed on a Comprehensive Plan amendment, at the request of developer Wendell Wood, which would have impacted property South of Hollymead Town Center. That motion was withdrawn after staff explained that area was involved in upcoming recommendations related to the Places29 Master Plan. None of these items were on the published meeting agenda.
Highlights from the discussion:
David Wyant (White Hall)
suggests in the future that other business items come at the start of a Board meeting so that the public can offer immediate reactions during public comment.
Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett)
suggests that staff and the Chair be informed in advance of an any substantive matters on which a Supervisor intends to bring up and on which they expect a motion to be made. These items could then be added to the final agenda before the meeting. He did not believe there would be very many emergency situations where that type of advance notice could not be given. [Note: BOS meeting agendas are released to the Supervisors and the public the Friday before a meeting]
David Slutzky (Rio)
indicated he would support this approach and that as a general rule the Board should make sure items are on the agenda. He suggests an appropriate slot of time be allocated to these discussions.
Bob Tucker (County Executive)
recommends that Supervisors get items to him as soon as possible. If the request comes in the Monday before a meeting, he noted that neither staff, nor the public, nor Supervisors would have much information to review before the discussion.
Lindsay Dorrier (Scottsville)
said he supported Mr. Wyant’s suggestion to have these matters discussed earlier in the meeting.
Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller)
described the practice she wants to avoid as “government by surprise” when things are voted on late in a meeting and they are not on the agenda. “Government by surprise is not really worthy of us. I think we should… let staff know, and the Chairman, and then it can be put on the agenda.”
Ken Boyd (Rivanna)
said he would support providing a short period of time for other matters and committee reports at the beginning of future meetings. “There are issues that do not raise to the level of votes, comments or things that Board members want to bring forward, that would probably be better served earlier on in the agenda. Now I would agree that we should not bring, I wouldn’t call it ‘government by surprise,’ but significant items that will take a long time [to discuss]. I am willing to try other matters and committee reports earlier on in the agenda.”
suggested some matters brought up will need to come back at the end of a meeting or at a future meeting for further discussion if it appears more time is required.