By Andrew Wroblewski
Asharoken Village officials on Tuesday passed new rules that include a three-minute limit for speakers at public meetings.
Mary “Pam” Pierce, an Asharoken trustee and deputy mayor, said Thursday that the policies were established to better accommodate speakers at the village’s meetings, which she said have drawn larger crowds as of late. She cited meetings related to the Army Corps of Engineers’ potential proposal of a multi-million dollar beach rehabilitation project, which would call for public access to the village’s private beaches in exchange for the Corps’ work, as an example.
“There are people who are supporters of issues, people who are opponents and people who are somewhere in between,” she said. At times, because of the subject matter, mutual respect has been challenged. We decided this would be a good time to put a policy in place so that everybody can say what they want to say.”
At meetings with a large public turnout, the board now reserves the right to limit speaking time to two minutes. Formal presentations, which may last longer than three minutes, can be requested through an advance notice to the board prior to a meeting.
Under the new policies, those who wish to speak may only do so during a public comment period. Speakers must first be recognized by the presiding officer and must state their name, address and organization prior to approaching the podium. Time cannot be yielded from one speaker to another.
“Speakers must observe the commonly accepted rules of curtesy, decorum, dignity and good taste,” the policy states. Speakers who do not follow these rules will be removed by the officer in charge.