Emergency Order Provides New Citizen Comment Method for Commission Meetings

ALAHUA COUNTY, FL- Emergency Order 2020-16 Provides New Ways for Citizens to Comment During Commission Meetings. Below are the highlights of the new Emergency Order.

This Emergency Order shall apply to all meetings of the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, and its boards and committees which operate under the Sunshine Law. Public meetings will comply with all requirements of Section 286.011, Fla. Stat., which have not otherwise been suspended or waived pursuant to EO 20-69 and this Emergency Order.

Notice of Electronic Public Meetings:

· Meeting notices will include instructions for interested members of the public to virtually attend via telephone, video conferencing or webinar technology utilized by the County.
· If a public meeting provides for the opportunity for public comment in general or on a specific item, the notice shall also include instructions regarding how members of the public may exercise their right to a reasonable opportunity to be heard.

Public Comment:

· During virtual meetings, the public will be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard through virtual means on propositions before a board or committee where official action will be taken except if the action is purely ministerial.
· Unless extended by the chair of the board or committee, for each period of public comment, each speaker will be limited to 2 minutes of comment and each public comment period will last no more than 30 minutes all together.
· The chair of a board or committee may refuse to introduce or may discontinue public comment which is irrelevant, repetitive or slanderous.
· Unless expanded or extended by a chair of a board or committee, one designated public comment period on issues not appearing on the agenda will be allowed for no more than 30 minutes at the close of all business on the agenda.

Wild Spaces Public Places 5pm Hearing Requirement Suspended.

· Section 5.b(8) of Alachua County Resolution 18-101 states that Board of County Commissioners’ actions on the acquisition of property using revenue from the Wild Spaces Public Places Local Government Infrastructure Surtax must occur at a public hearing held after 5PM. The requirement that such Board of County Commissioners’ meeting must be held after 5PM is hereby suspended until the expiration of the existing State of Local Emergency.

The full text of the order can be read here.

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