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(A) Informal public hearings. An informal public hearing is called in order to give the public an opportunity to comment on a matter of public interest before the Council. Informal hearings are not required by state law or city ordinance. The board, committee or commission concerned may set rules for notifying the public of an informal hearing, establish a time frame and conduct the hearing in any fair manner it chooses.
(B) Formal public hearings. A formal public hearing is one required by state laws or city ordinances and is designed to solicit comment from the general public.
(C) Hearing procedures.
(1) Hearings shall be fair and impartial. If a Council member has a personal interest in the outcome of a hearing, such that there is a legally recognized conflict of interest, he or she should disqualify himself or herself from participation.
(2) Persons and groups who may be affected by the matter being discussed in the hearing shall be provided at least the minimum statutory notice of the time and place of the hearing. Such persons and groups attending the hearing shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard. Persons or groups requesting to address the Council may be represented by legal counsel and may present oral and documentary evidence.
(3) The presiding officer should open the hearing and explain the hearing procedures. The presiding officer should inquire whether any comment on the public matter at issue has been received in the Clerk’s office, and the Clerk should then relate any such comments for the record.
(4) Following the report of the Clerk, the public should be invited to address the Council. If there are numerous persons representing the same views and opinions, the presiding officer may ask that a spokesperson be selected to speak on behalf of the group. If this arrangement cannot be made, the presiding officer may restrict each speaker to a limited time (generally three minutes) so that all may be heard. Irrelevant comments or speakers who run over the time allotted may be ruled out of order by the presiding officer.
(5) Following comments from the public, staff persons who have information to present should be invited to present their respective reports.
(6) When all interested persons (except as reasonably limited by the presiding officer, as stated above) have had the opportunity to speak, the hearing is closed, ending audience participation. Council members may then discuss and take action on the proposal following the hearing if notice of such action is stated on the meeting agenda.
(Res. 2017-287, passed 10-9-2017)