The Greensboro City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15 could be a short one.

Since the City Council went to the format of only holding one business meeting a month, that meeting, held on the third Tuesday, has tended to be lengthy. 

But the Feb. 15 meeting has no “Public Hearing” items on the agenda.  Annexations, original zoning and rezoning cases must all be held at duly advertised public hearings, and when a zoning has opposition, it can take over an hour to handle one item.

There was originally one rezoning case scheduled for the meeting, but the applicant asked that it be continued, so now there are none. By comparison, the Jan. 18 council meeting had 12 public hearing items that dealt with annexing, zoning or rezoning for five different properties.  The City Council approved all 12 items.

The Feb. 15 meeting will be what the City Council calls a “hybrid” meeting, which means councilmembers, city staff and the public can participate in person or by Zoom.  The public is allowed to speak on any agenda item, whether it is a public hearing or not.

The agenda does include four “General Business” items and it is expected that there will be speakers on several of those items that involve downtown development.  However, unlike zoning issues, which proponents and opponents each get a total of 20 minutes to speak, those speaking on agenda items have three minutes.

Also, the Consent Agenda often takes far longer than it should according to City Council policy.  The Consent Agenda is a listing of routine and housekeeping items that are not supposed to be discussed and are all voted on with one vote.

If a councilmember has questions or wants to discuss an item on the Consent Agenda, that item is supposed to be removed from the Consent Agenda and placed on the General Business Agenda for the next business meeting of the City Council.

That is the official policy.  In practice, if Mayor Nancy Vaughan or any of seven other councilmembers want to discuss a Consent Agenda item, it is placed on the general business agenda for the next meeting.

However, if Councilmember Sharon Hightower has questions and wants to discuss a Consent Agenda item, she is allowed to do so, which means the Consent Agenda can take a long time.