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Chapter 275 – the 5 minute public hearing

Members may not be aware that The Suffolk Times Legal Notices lists the following Public Hearings on Dec 4th:

  • 275 Amendment – 7:35 PM
  • Operation of a Transfer Station – 7:40 PM
  • Shellfish and other Marine Resources – 7:45 PM

In addition, on page 44, under “Public Hearing set:”
“… In order to move forward before the end of the year on several changes [that] board members considered minor and noncontroversial, a public hearing will be held at 7:35 p.m. Tuesday, Dec 4. A second hearing will be scheduled sometime in the new year to tackle more substantive changes in Chapter 275.”

In other public meetings, the time is understood to be a general marker and that things are moved around based on the Board’s internal wanted schedule, but the hearing cannot legally start BEFORE the published time of 7.35pm. So although we can’t assume the hearing is only going to be 5 minutes long, the more striking (and subtle) note is that the board is only looking at “noncontroversial” items.

Unfortunately, the Board has not said which items are minor (that they will hear on 12/4) and which items are controversial (which they will not hear on 12/4), neither HOW they can judge an item as noncontroversial when a public hearing about any item has yet to take place. What is the Board’s definition of controversial anyway? One person objecting? Two? Ten? If the definition of a “controversial item” is one person objecting to it, then only people in support of an amendment may be allowed speak, and anyone attempting to voice objections could be considered “controversial,” shut down and told to come back in the New Year.

Perhaps the intention was to send a message that this really is not important so no one needs to worry about it, but the message received is one of attempting to restrain the public voice being heard at the time appointed by the Board for that very purpose.

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