[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Washington 6-19-2006 by Res. No. 2006-16. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Washington Township, Berks County Board of Supervisors, in order to establish a level of civility and promote an atmosphere of reasoned expression of ideas, is promulgating rules and regulations for its Board meetings.
The Supervisors have observed that much of the discourse in their meetings is repetitive and redundant, and that the discussion on some issues persists nearly perpetually because a party or parties continue to "beat a dead horse" until there is nothing left to say.
The party presenting the issue is often not the "injured" party, is often not the property owner of the property in question, and often has no standing in the matter of discussion or on the agenda.
The Board is a strong advocate of "free speech" and wishes to promote an atmosphere of reasoned expression of ideas.
The Washington Township Board of Supervisors establishes the following rules and regulations regarding conduct at public meetings:
A period of public comment shall be held at each regularly scheduled meeting. Public participation shall be convened at the conclusion of the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors and shall be limited to five minutes or less.
All those in attendance and all those who present issues and all who comment will be expected to adhere to a code of conduct established by the Board as follows:
No personal attacks of the Supervisors, employees of Washington Township, members of the audience in attendance or any other kind of personal attack will be tolerated.
No name calling of the Supervisors, employees of Washington Township, members of the audience in attendance or any other kind of name calling will be tolerated.
No shouting. All parties wishing to comment must wait their turn and must be called up/recognized by the Chairman before making comments.
Discuss issues, not personalities. Comments should be clear, concise, relevant and to the point. Comments relating to personalities will not be tolerated.
Placement on the agenda, special requests. To be placed on the agenda for the night of a scheduled Board meeting, those with issues that wish to come before the Board need to contact the Washington Township Office and write, fax or e-mail such a request no later than Monday, 12:00 noon before the meeting in question and include a brief description (no more than a short paragraph) of the issue in question. Telephone requests will not be accepted.
Presenting issues/agenda items to the Board at a meeting:
Any person wishing to comment should, when recognized by the Chairman, proceed to the meeting room podium and stand, state his/her name and explain his/her interest in the matter at hand prior to commenting.
The first person who placed the issue on the agenda will be provided the opportunity to present the issue to the Board. This first presenter, or his/her representative(s), shall be allowed a period of time not to exceed 10 minutes in order to make said presentation. Additional presenters on the same topic wishing to make public comment will be allotted five (5) minutes in order to make said presentation.
The person(s) who present the issue to the Board must have standing to represent the person(s) having the issue by being the property owner or representative of the property owner (architect, engineer, surveyor, or other).
A resident who is not a property owner who has an issue with someone in the Township would need to show that the Board has jurisdiction, or at least an interest, in the matter.
Those in attendance may respond to the issue presented when recognized by the Chairman of the Board. Such response shall be limited as follows: a) A party having a direct interest in the issue presented shall limit his/her response to five minutes; b) a party who has no direct interest in the issue presented but who wishes to make a comment(s) shall limit his/her response to two minutes.
If the issue is one of a clear-cut violation of a Township ordinance and/or a matter in which the Board has jurisdiction, the Board may act at that meeting, table the matter for further investigation or study, or refer the matter to the appropriate officials from within or outside the Township.
The Chairman, or the majority of the Board, may, if in their opinion these rules are not complied with, terminate the discussion rights of any individual for either the issue at hand or for the remainder of the meeting.
Once an issue had been terminated by the Chairman or the majority of the Board, it shall be at the Board's discretion whether or not to address the issue at a subsequent Board meeting.
Should an individual's request for time to be heard at the Board's meeting not be received in time to be placed on the agenda, and should the individual's issue be of such import that time is of the essence, such applicant may request an exception to the deadline (Monday noon before a Board meeting) by contacting the Secretary/Manager who will pass on the individual's request to the Supervisors. A quick decision may be rendered by the Supervisors at their discretion.
Recording devices. Meetings of the Board of Supervisors are open and public. As such, citizens have the right to record the proceedings. In fairness to all parties, and in an attempt to lend order to the process, recordings shall be made only upon compliance with the following rules:
Any individual wishing to record a meeting must state so early in the beginning of the meeting when the question is asked, "Is anyone taping the meeting?"
No device, either video camera or otherwise, shall have artificial lighting. Video equipment should be set up in the rear of the room and shall not come any closer than the last row of chairs.