Some meetings are designated as Public Hearings. Unlike most other committee or board meetings, hearings generally are concerned with a single agenda item; a hearing may even be conducted during the course of a regular meeting. Hearings provide an opportunity for residents or other concerned individuals to present comment or testimony to a committee or board before a decision on the subject at hand is made.
Boards Requiring Public Hearings
Public hearings are required by law for the following commissions before they can take certain actions:
Board of Selectmen
Zoning Board of Appeals
Actions Requiring a Public Hearing
The actions that require a public hearing are typically those to issue permits or licenses, or to amend a Town of Weston regulation.
Public Hearings for Input
In addition, a board or committee may choose to schedule a public hearing to receive input prior to taking action.
In addition to the posting requirement as for all public meetings, public hearings must, by law, be advertised in the newspaper. Further, notice to property abutters and other Weston boards or committees may be required. All of the formalities that apply to meetings, including the Open Meeting Law, apply to hearings as well.
Addressing the Board
During a public hearing, all those in attendance who wish to comment or address the board must be allowed to do so. Consequently, public hearings tend to require more formality and adherence to Robert’s Rules than committee and board meetings. The presiding committee member (usually the chair) is responsible for assuring that order is maintained, and that no one person usurps the floor for an unreasonable period.