Penn Twp. creates policy for public comment
In establishing their first formal guidelines for public comments at board meetings, Penn Township commissioners decided to limit an individual taxpayer's or resident's comments to three minutes and the entire comment period to a maximum of 45 minutes during their board meetings.
The commissioners' vote Monday night to set up the rules comes as they anticipate holding a hearing in January or February on proposed changes to the township's zoning ordinance and map.
Penn Township's new policy doesn't differ drastically from the general practice over the past few years in which commissioners permitted taxpayers and taxpayers to address them about community matters or specific topics listed on the evening's agenda.
However, the resolution spells out that commissioners will not take comments on matters that already were resolved, such as a property owner's discontent with a zoning hearing board's decision. In that instance, commissioners would suggest the property owner could appeal the decision.
“If it's a point of law that's been resolved, then our time is better spent on listening to something that hasn't already been resolved,” Commissioner Chuck Horvat said.
Commissioner Larry Harrison, who offered an amendment to delete the section relating to previously resolved issues, cast the only vote against the resolution.
Manager Bruce Light said commissioners twice before proposed creating guidelines for public comment since he was hired in 1995 but nothing had been adopted formally.
Residents and taxpayers will be asked to sign their name and address on a list before the meeting to be able to comment. After they are recognized, those who haven't signed up will be given an opportunity to speak.
According to the resolution, the board chairman may “rule out scandalous, impertinent and redundant comments” during the comment period.
Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.