(11/4/03) Art Elder
wanted 10. Joyce Rosensteel preferred eight. Cliff Sweeney
favored six. And Pat Boyle said he'd go for five or six.
And the great commissioners' "auction" over comment time at
town public hearings was on.
The time debate, which for a while took on the feel of an
auction, provided some comical moments as Emmitsburg's
commissioners hashed out revised rules for comments during
public hearings. In the end, the board decided that speakers
would be allotted eight minutes and can't yield unused time,
and that the town will be responsible for keeping time.
The issue arose after events at recent meetings regarding town
growth. People often signed up to speak, yet yielded most or
all of their three minutes to a representative, creating the
opportunity for that person to speak for up to 15 minutes.
"It just carries on too long," Mr. Boyle lamented.
Mayor Jim Hoover said he preferred expanding the time limit
from three minutes per person but preventing the passing of
unused time to another speaker. The board's task, he said, was
to determine a fair and reasonable amount of time.
Mr. Elder said he'd heard people say they didn't have enough
time and favored going with the 10-minute limit recommended in
Robert's Rules of Order.
But Mr. Sweeney said he thought anything over six minutes was
too long, and Mr. Boyle favored five minutes. That's when Ms.
Rosensteel said she'd agree with 10 minutes because "everybody
should have an opportunity to say what they want to say."
With a deadlock apparent over time, the board unanimously
decided to halt the practice of yielding time and put the town
in charge of keeping the time.
Discussion then returned to how much time speakers should
have. Mr. Sweeney's motion to increase limit to six minutes
failed when only Mr. Boyle supported it, and for a while it
appeared that residents might be limited to three minutes
Mr. Elder moved to set the time limit at eight minutes and
quickly got a second from Ms. Rosensteel. When Mr. Sweeney
hesitantly voted for the motion, Mr. Boyle made it unanimous.
The time debate was the closest thing to a controversial
decision in a meeting that mostly involved housekeeping chores
for the board.
The commissioners completed the months-old process of moving
the town elections, unanimously voting to switch Election Day
to the first Monday in October beginning in 2007. It also set
the public hearings on two rezoning cases before the town for
Nov 20 at 7:30 pm at the Sleep Inn and said the hearing on the
annexation request wouldn’t be held until January.
The board also committed more then $160,000 over the next
three years to repair the town’s largest water tank and more
then $10,000 annually thereafter to have the structure
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