Second citizen comment period added

Published 12:04 pm Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Donna Fore

Citizens who attend the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors meetings will now have the  chance to speak twice and express their concerns to members.

At the June meeting, supervisors voted to approve adding an additional the end of the sessions.

Before, citizens could only speak at the beginning of meetings. The motion to add the additional comment period carried 4 to 2 with Bacon/ Saxe Supervisor Royal Freeman and County Seat District Supervisor Gary Walker casting the only no votes. “I just felt like it was important for the people to have a voice before we make a decision” Walker explained. “After the fact accomplishes nothing … in my opinion.”

Freeman also explained his position on the matter. “The policy for public comment period allows the people to review the agenda, sign up to speak and address their concerns at the meeting so they can be heard,” Freeman said. “I think the three minute time limit given could have been extended to five minutes giving each person more time to be heard at the beginning of the meeting.”

Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni made the motion to approve with a second by Aspen/Phenix Supervisor Donna Fore. Before making the motion, Pierantoni spoke up to add, “ To give the citizens the last word is the right thing to do,” she said. “They (citizens) can’t speak out during the meeting, but this gives them the opportunity at the end.”

Fore also agreed with Pierantoni adding that it is a custom in other counties in Virginia to add an open public comment period at both the beginning and end of meetings. “There are issues and discussions that come up during the meeting that would then generate an additional comment by the public,” said Fore. “Out of fairness, I think we should do this.”

Citizen Kathy Liston, who regularly attends the Board of Supervisors meetings, was thrilled to see the second comment period added. “I am very happy the supervisors have added a second public comment period at the end of their meetings. Often you hear something during the course of the meeting that you would like to comment on but until now you had to wait a month until the next meeting,” Liston said. “This is definitely a big step toward more transparency and better government.”

Following the motion that passed, Fore yelled out, “Go for the people … the people win.” Her comment was met with no further response from members.