Public Hearing Procedures, Protocols, and Etiquette
The Planning Commission is a 7 member volunteer board appointed by the City Council to provide recommendations on land use issues and applications and approve certain land use projects. Most items on the Commission’s agenda require a public hearing prior to a decision being made. For those not familiar with the public hearing process, the following information gives an overview of how the hearing is conducted.
- Members of the public wishing to speak on the item will be asked to fill out and submit a speaker card to the Planning Commission secretary. Submittal of your name and address is requested so that statements in the minutes can be attributed to the correct person; however, submittal of this information is not required to speak at the hearing.
- The agenda item is introduced by the Chair of the Planning Commission. City staff present the facts, circumstances, and a recommendation for the project.
- After staff's presentation, the Chairperson will invite the project applicant/proponent to make a presentation to the Commission.
- The Chairperson will then open the public hearing to receive public comment. The Planning Commission reserves the right to impose a reasonable limit on time afforded to any individual speaker.
- Following the public comment, the applicant will have an opportunity to clarify, answer, or rebut statements made by the public. The purpose of the closing statement is to allow the applicant the opportunity to explain how the project will address key issues.
- The Chairperson will then take formal action to close the public hearing, at which time no further public comments will be received. Once the public testimony portion of the hearing is closed discussion is limited to Commission members and staff. A public hearing on any matter, once closed, cannot be reopened on the date set for the hearing unless agreed upon by a 4/5 vote of the Commission.
- After deliberation, the Commission will make a decision to either approve or deny the project, or to continue the item to a future meeting.
- Persons wishing to submit comments in writing must submit the material to the Planning Division no later than noon on the business day prior to the hearing. Written materials presented to the Commission for the first time at, or immediately prior to, the public hearing may be accepted into evidence at the discretion of the Commission. Ten copies should be provided.
- Photographs, maps, diagrams or other informational materials presented to the Commission shall become part of the administrative record and cannot be returned.
Planning Commission Etiquette
- Each agenda item represents a potential change in the way land may be used or developed. Significant to this process is public comment, which affords the Commission with information essential for making a determination. Your cooperation and attention to the above noted hearing procedure will ensure an orderly meeting and afford an opportunity for all to participate. Please Be Respectful! Each person’s testimony is important regardless of his or her position.
- The Commission’s hearings are conducted in a courtroom-like environment and audience conduct shall be in accordance with courtroom etiquette. Clapping, cheering, speaking out of order or disorderly conduct are not appropriate and are grounds for removal from the hearing room by order of the Chair. Pager and cellular phones should be turned off or placed on vibrate as to not disturb the hearing.
- Please speak clearly. State your name and address for the record.
- Direct all comments and questions to the Planning Commission. Dialog between the person speaking at the podium and the audience is not appropriate.
- Please be brief in your comments and refrain from being repetitive of the remarks made by previous speakers. If another speaker has made similar points, please make note of it in the record and state that you agree with the previous speaker. The most effective and useful comments are those which focus directly on the issues under consideration, provide unique information based on the speaker’s direct knowledge or experience, and which may even offer solutions or alternatives.