The Greensboro City Council met virtually Tuesday, May 19 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and the meeting isn’t over yet.
At the end of the meeting Mayor Nancy Vaughan called for a motion to adjourn and those watching could hear City Attorney Chuck Watts in the background saying, “Recess, recess.” Vaughan stopped counting votes and restated the motion to recess the meeting to Thursday, May 21 at 11 a.m.
The reason for recessing the meeting was in an effort to comply with the new state law that set standards for how virtual public hearings must be held. According to that law, the City Council has to accept written public comments on a virtual public hearing item for at least 24 hours after the virtual public hearing is closed. The University of North Carolina School of Government has interpreted this to mean that a city council couldn’t vote on a public hearing matter until after the period for public comments had expired.
However, Watts has interpreted it to mean that the City Council could vote at the meeting and come back after the public comment period has expired and see if any councilmembers wanted to change their votes.
From the explanation at the meeting, only items that the City Council received additional comments on will be taken up at the Thursday meeting and exactly how that will be done was not clear. At this point the City Council has officially voted, and the period for public comment set by state law won’t end until Wednesday evening.
The City Council is definitely getting more comfortable with the virtual meeting process; at times three or four councilmembers were all speaking at once, just like when the City Council used to meet in the Council Chamber.
Vaughan did call for a break during the middle of a rezoning public hearing because the connection with Councilmember Sharon Hightower was lost, but at the end of the break Hightower was back and that was the only real glitch during the meeting.