BRISTOL — A recent series of disagreements circulating around public comment at the Bristol Town Council meetings has resulted in a new policy.
“We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the public comments section so we put together a set of public-comment guidelines,” council president Jeff Beachy said.
Former council president Ron Norman, attending two of the most recent council meetings, has addressed the format of public comment during each meeting, prompting the council to consider drafting a policy.
“I feel that anybody that comes and wants to speak should have that right,” Clerk-Treasurer Mary Ryman said.
According to Ryman, in years past there has not been a policy. Due to the high volume of comment recently, as well as comments regarding the format of such expression, the town has issued a policy that Ryman hopes will offer a solution to the perceived problem.
Time will be allocated on the agenda for the public to offer comment on general items, as in the past, and it will remain at the top of the agenda. Those who wish to speak must state their name and address, and they will be limited to three minutes. Individuals will not be permitted to share or yield their time to anyone else.
Following the public comment section of the agenda, individuals will be permitted to offer comment following each topic of discussion. They must raise their hand to be called upon. All comments must be directed toward the council president.
Items that require a council vote will be open for public comment following a second by council members. The council will close the public comment section for that agenda item to discuss the topic, at which time public comments will no longer be permitted.
The council will not enter into dialog with community members during the public comment section.
“The public comment section is for you, the public, to inform us, the council, about your views, which we, the council, will take into consideration when voting on agenda items,” Beachy said. “We won’t be going back and forth with questions.”
Written questions or comments may be handed to the town clerk, who will ensure that the council receives them.