Pennington Council approves changes to public comment periods for meetings

Pennington Borough Hall at 30 N Main St. in Pennington.

The Pennington Council has reduced public speaking time to two minutes for each person that chooses to speak in the first comment period at Council meetings.

The change is among others that the governing body approved Nov. 7 for the two public comment periods that occur during a Council meeting.

During the first initial public comment period, the public is now allowed to raise any issue with members of Council, as the first public comment period is no longer just for items listed on the agenda.

Council President Kit Chandler, Councilwoman Kati Angarone, Councilwoman Deborah Gnatt, Councilman Ken Gross, Councilman Charles Marciante and Councilwoman Nadine Stern voted “yes” to approve the resolution, which amends the Council’s handbook and bylaws for public comment at Council meetings.

For the second public comment period, it is open to the public for general comment.

In the second public comment period, each person will have three minutes rather than two minutes to speak during this time.

“It provides that at the end of each Council meeting, members of the public that did not speak during the first comment period or wish to speak on a different subject are provided the opportunity to speak and so forth,” said Walter Bliss, attorney for Pennington.

“Then finally instead of two minutes, that number has been increased to three minutes because it is the second session.”

Members of the public at special meetings conducted by Council will be able to take part in one comment period that has increased speaking time from two minutes to three minutes.

“Another undiscussed item [on] public hearings of public ordinances, in keeping with the spirit of the three-minute rule, I propose taking that up to three minutes. Keeping in mind that on ordinances, you only get to speak once,” Bliss said.

Editor’s Note: The article has been corrected to reflect that first initial public comment is no longer just for items listed on the agenda and is now open to any item of concern raised by members of the public to Borough Council.