FRONT ROYAL — Speakers during the Board of Supervisors public comment period will have to follow a new set of rules.
The board at its regular Tuesday meeting approved its meeting policy and procedures guidelines, which it does during the first meeting of every calendar year.
Amendments to the rules will give citizens five minutes to speak, which is an increase from a three-minute limit. That time could be increased to 10 minutes at the chairman’s discretion. Every meeting will also have 20 minutes set aside for public comments, which is up from 15 minutes.
The rules further stipulate that no person is allowed to speak on the same topic more than three times per 12 months.
County Attorney Dan Whitten said the supervisors would likely amend the county code, which has a different set of guidelines for public presentations, later this month.
The need to coordinate the code and the meeting policy first came up in December, when Whitten explained that the two have a different set of rules.
The county code states that “any orderly person present at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors may, upon recognition by the presiding officer, request permission to address the board, and the presiding officer may grant such request upon demand of any two Supervisors.”
The disparity between the two policies first came up about three weeks after resident Mark Egger, during the public comment period, spoke about an incident at the home of Jennifer McDonald, former Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority executive director. This was the third time he spoke during the public comments period about the EDA.
Whitten said in December that Egger’s comments have nothing to do with the change and the county had been meaning to get its meeting policy and county code to agree for several months.
Whitten said any changes to the code will be up for discussion during a Jan. 22 public hearing.
Supervisor Tony Carter said the changes would be good because the board does not want to deny any citizen the right to speak, but “there needs to be some type of time limit.” He added that anybody should be able to get their point across in five minutes.
The Board of Supervisors also:
• Unanimously appointed Dan Murray as board chairman and Tom Sayre as vice chairman.
• Approved the $113,352 purchase of four Warren County Sheriff’s Office vehicles. The purchase includes two Dodge Durango Pursuit V8s for $31,822 each and two Dodge Charger V8s for $24,854 each.
• Approved advertising a public hearing regarding a Verizon Wireless telecommunications proposed to be constructed on Happy Creek Road.