Staunton Council set to adopt some changes to public comment

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 11:44 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - In Staunton, the hotly debated topic of the public’s ability to weigh in during meetings is one step closer to being resolved.

During a work session Thursday night, City Council updated its procedures. It includes some changes to Matters From the Public.

Staunton Council hasn’t yet voted, but right now, the majority of members favor limiting speaking time to three minutes with no limit on the number of speakers. Zoom and in-person speakers will take turns, and Matters From the Public will stay at the end of meetings.

“Let’s try to maximize the number of people that are speaking to us by having both Zoom participation and in-person participation,” said Councilman Steve Claffey. “But let’s go to three minutes. It seems like a lot of our fellow cities are going to that and we can hear from more people and we can get more opinions.”

“I think we made a lot of these problems ourself by not dealing with this earlier. We probably wouldn’t have so many people here that are concerned about it,” said Councilman Terry Holmes. “I could see maybe shortening the time a little bit that they speak but I don’t think we should limit the number of people speaking as long as they’re not just saying the same thing over and over again.”

There are no proposed changes when it comes to public hearings. People will still get five minutes to speak and there will be no limit to the number of speakers.

Council will vote on the Procedure Memoranda, including the proposed changes, during a regularly scheduled meeting in two weeks.

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