Planning Commission OKs Change to Bylaws

At its Aug. 6, 2014 meeting, the Ann Arbor planning commission approved revisions to its bylaws related to public hearings.

At the commission’s July 15, 2014 meeting, planning manager Wendy Rampson introduced staff recommendations for changes to the bylaws, which had also been discussed at a July 8 working session. She noted that when revisions to bylaws are being considered, the commission must provide notice at a meeting before that potential action. That public notice happened on July 15.

Planning commissioners had originally adopted similar revisions to their bylaws at a Feb. 20, 2014 meeting. Such revisions require city council approval. However, the city attorney’s office did not forward the Feb. 20 changes to the council for consideration. There was no action until July, when assistant city attorney Kevin McDonald provided suggested revisions to the bylaws related to public hearings. Those were the changes that were presented to commissioners at their July 15 meeting, and approved on Aug. 6. [.pdf of revised bylaws regarding public hearings] [.pdf of bylaws staff memo]

The main changes are in Sections 3 and 5 of Article 5 – Public Hearings. In Section 3, the changes eliminate the ability of the commission’s chair to modify or waive the speaking time limitations. Instead, the changes stipulate that the entire commission would have to make that decision via a majority vote.

The changes for Section 5 relate to the continuation of a hearing, and are as follows [deletions in strike-thru, additions in bold]:

Section 5. At the discretion of the Chair, or by vote of a majority of the members present, public hearings may be continued to another date. meeting, but will not be deemed to be a new hearing but a continuation of the original. If a public hearing is continued, individuals who have not previously addressed the Commission during the public hearing may address the Commission following the requirements of Section 3. Individuals who have addressed the Commission previously during the public hearing may only address the Commission for additional time (as limited by Section 3) during the continued public hearing if the Chair, with the consultation of Planning and Development Services staff, determines that: 1) additional public feedback is necessary, or 2) a specific petition has materially changed since the date of the original public hearing date. Agendas for continued public hearings shall specify whether members of the public shall be granted additional time to speak.

There were no changes suggested for the revisions that were passed by planning commissioners on Feb. 20 related to interactions with city councilmembers. That revised section states:

Section 9. A member of the City Council shall not be heard before the Commission during the Councilmember’s term in office.

The bylaws will be forwarded to the council for consideration. The revisions must be approved by the council before taking effect.

This brief was filed from the second-floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.