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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Avalon Sets Rules for Remote Participation at Council Meetings

By Vince Conti

AVALON – Avalon began allowing remote video access to Borough Council meetings in 2021. In 2022, the borough initiated remote public comment at these meetings on what the borough calls a “trial period.”  

Concern that technology failures or online disruptive behavior could negatively impact the conduct of necessary business by the governing body led the council to adopt a set of rules at its Feb. 9 meeting concerning remote access and participation. 

The borough describes Zoom access as a convenience to the public and not a necessary aspect of council meetings. The meaning is that live council meetings will proceed in the face of technical problems that may hamper or deny remote public access or participation. 

The borough extended its five-minute time limit on public comment, which it already has in place for those who speak in person at council meetings. Public participation is only allowed during the public comment period of the meeting or a public hearing on a proposed ordinance. 

The resolution that codified the remote access and participation rules also made clear that individuals attempting to disrupt the remote administration of any meeting may be denied access. 

Even with this “convenience” for the public, the borough’s message in the resolution is to encourage in-person attendance, especially for those who wish to guarantee the ability to comment.  

Promoting in-person attendance at meetings has long been the council’s preference for public involvement, but it can be a difficult proposition in a borough where up to 85% of the property-owning taxpayers are not in residence for much of the year. 

 

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