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Derry

April 10, 2014

Derry councilors discuss public forum rules

DERRY — Town councilors want to make sure residents continue to voice concerns during the public forum portion of their meetings.

But residents must be respectful when voicing those concerns.

The public forum portion of meetings is frequent topic of conversation among councilors. With two new members on the council, the rules were once again discussed at a meeting April 1.

Councilor David Fischer wanted to make sure he knew the policy and what was allowed during public input.

“I asked to put this on the agenda and wanted to ask what the practices and protocol were,” he said. “I’ve seen the green, yellow and red lights go off, but I didn’t know if there is a time limit.”

The lights at the front podium still show time restraints when someone speaks, the red light giving notice that a three-minute time limit had arrived.

But now there is officially no time limit, as long as comments are respectful and relevant.

“With those lights, you had the three minutes,” Councilor Al Dimmock said. “But now we don’t limit them.”

Dimmock said when the red light shines, people often continue speaking.

“We’re allowing our constituents to voice their concerns in an orderly manner and not be too repetitive,” he said.

Prior councils often had heated debates over the public forum. Last summer, a meeting ended abruptly after members got fired up over public forum rules.

Council Chairman Mark Osborne said he, as the group’s leader, would make judgment calls on whether a resident’s public views were kept timely, or if anyone needed answers to a particular question and where they could find that information.

Fischer said he didn’t want public comment to be so involved that it might warrant a future agenda item.

Right now, people have a right to speak on any issue, except those that are listed on the agenda during that night’s meeting.

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