The Greensboro City Council following its own long-established policy should not be news, but it is.

At the Tuesday, June 20 meeting, Mayor Nancy Vaughan, in a rare if not unprecedented case, had an item on the consent agenda continued to the next meeting where it will be placed on the general business agenda for discussion.

The consent agenda is a list of “routine and noncontroversial items” that are all passed with one vote.  The policy of the City Council is that any city councilmember can request that an item be removed from the consent agenda due to a conflict of interest or for the purpose of voting no. An item can also be removed from the consent agenda for discussion and that item it will be placed on the general business agenda for the next meeting.

At most meetings of the City Council, this policy is enforced for seven of the eight councilmembers. However, Councilmember Sharon Hightower is allowed to ask questions, discuss and comment at length on items on the consent agenda, and usually does.

At the June 20 meeting, Hightower only had one item, G.3, on the consent agenda that she said she had questions about.  Normally, Hightower would have asked her questions, stated her opinion, argued with staff and eventually the council would have voted on the consent agenda.

But in a move that was shocking to those who regularly attend or watch City Council meetings, instead of Hightower immediately launching into a series of comments and questions about the item, Mayor Nancy Vaughan asked Hightower if she wanted to have Item G.3 continued to the next meeting for discussion.

Hightower said, “I’m real concerned about this item.” And asked that it be continued to the next meeting for discussion.

Item G.3 appeared to fit well on the consent agenda, since it is simply the transfer of the lease for a parking lot at 602 Regional Road formerly used by Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) from the North Carolina Department of Transportation to Greensboro at no cost.  The conditions of the lease state that the site is to be used for truck parking and the city is responsible for maintaining the site.

Hightower did not go into detail about why she questioned accepting a no-cost lease on a parking lot near the I-40 and US-68 interchange.

It’s possible that the Greensboro City Council has a new policy of actually following its current consent agenda policy for all councilmembers, but only time will tell.