Article

Hartsville board calls meetings to order

HARTSVILLE - Six months of tense wind farm debate has divided in the Town of Hartsville and led the town board to adopt rules of decorum.

Supervisor Amy Emerson regretted the need for the rules, but said larger numbers of attendees at board meetings made maintaining order difficult.

“I've asked repeatedly for people to speak one at a time and to address the board only,” she said. “That has not worked, and at the March meeting I was overwhelmed by the disrespect I received when I tried to call the meeting back to order.

“Tonight I am asking the board to officially enact some rules of procedure,” Emerson said during Wednesday's meeting. “At a special meeting March 27, we tried a procedure used by the Hornellsville town board - having the public questions written down - it worked relatively well, and I think once everyone gets the hang of it, it will work really well for us.”

Among the list of rules for procedure at meetings, questions are now required to be written down and addressed to the board, and must relate to the purpose of the meeting. It also requires questions to be asked courteously, and personal remarks will not be allowed.

People who disregard the rules or act in an inappropriate manner may lose their right to address the board and, after a final warning, could be asked to leave the meeting.

“A meeting of the town board is... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Supervisor Amy Emerson regretted the need for the rules, but said larger numbers of attendees at board meetings made maintaining order difficult.
 
“I've asked repeatedly for people to speak one at a time and to address the board only,” she said. “That has not worked, and at the March meeting I was overwhelmed by the disrespect I received when I tried to call the meeting back to order.
 
“Tonight I am asking the board to officially enact some rules of procedure,” Emerson said during Wednesday's meeting. “At a special meeting March 27, we tried a procedure used by the Hornellsville town board - having the public questions written down - it worked relatively well, and I think once everyone gets the hang of it, it will work really well for us.”
 
Among the list of rules for procedure at meetings, questions are now required to be written down and addressed to the board, and must relate to the purpose of the meeting. It also requires questions to be asked courteously, and personal remarks will not be allowed.
 
People who disregard the rules or act in an inappropriate manner may lose their right to address the board and, after a final warning, could be asked to leave the meeting.
 
“A meeting of the town board is a serious matter, and under the open meeting law the public has a right to attend town board meetings,” Emerson said. “The public may not participate in the meeting except upon invitation from the board.
 
“The law does not require town boards to set time aside at regular town meetings for public comment; public participation is the purpose of a public hearing,” she added. “Some residents may feel the rules enacted by the town board have unconstitutionally limited their right to free speech; however, the limitations on public participation is to ensure many speakers, questions and points of view may be expressed, and the board reserves the right to limit for content and length.”
 
There was some discussion regarding wind farms among board members; however, the public was not allowed to comment. Councilwoman Mattie Parini made a motion for a moratorium on wind farm development so the town could develop an ordinance regulating such projects. Though the motion was seconded by Councilman James Perry, after discussion about the legality of taking such an action, it was tabled to obtain an opinion from town attorney Brian Schu.
 
Taking an offer made by Rochester billionaire B. Thomas Golisano at a meeting in Arkport last week also was discussed. Golisano offered to pay for an attorney specializing in municipal law. It was decided to explore that option, and Councilman George Prior volunteered to contact Golisano.
 


Source: http://www.eveningtribune....

APR 15 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2191-hartsville-board-calls-meetings-to-order
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