Home International Kane County considers changes to public comment portion of meetings

Kane County considers changes to public comment portion of meetings


Recently proposed amendments to the Kane County code would shorten the amount of time dedicated to public speakers at Kane County Board meetings.

The ordinance containing the proposed code changes went before the Kane County Board Executive Committee on Wednesday, but committee members voted unanimously to delay it to next month’s meeting. So far, there has been no formal discussion on the proposed amendments and no action taken to move them forward.

District 21 County Board member Clifford Surges said at the meeting that he was given the proposal for the first time at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I’m not saying I’m opposed or in favor. I just want to be able to read it, and I didn’t have that luxury,” he said.

The ordinance as it is currently proposed would make changes to section 2-47, parts A and B, of the Kane County code.

Under the current Kane County code, members of the public who wish to speak at open county meetings have five minutes per person and up to 30 minutes amongst all public speakers to talk about items on the meeting’s agenda. Members of the public who wish to speak about topics not on the meeting’s agenda get three minutes each and up to 15 minutes amongst all speakers.

The proposed amendments to the code would combine the two different public comment times for on and off agenda speakers into a single, 30-minute-long public comment period. Speakers would get three minutes per person regardless of whether they are speaking about items on or off the agenda.

However, under the proposed changes, the board would be able to extend the public comment period beyond the 30-minute limit by a majority vote.

The proposed changes also would allow members of the public to make comments through video conferencing, such as Zoom, if allowed by the board.

Those who wish to speak in person would need to sign up 15 minutes before the meeting starts, and those who wish to speak online would need to send an email requesting to speak by noon the day before a meeting at the latest, under the proposed changes.

For those who aren’t able to make it to a meeting, the proposed changes would allow members of the public to submit written comments, which would be emailed to board members and attached to the meeting’s minutes but not read aloud during the meeting.

In addition to changing how public comment works, the proposed amendments would rearrange the structure of Kane County Board meetings, most notably moving zoning petitions to later in the meeting after the consent agenda, which is used to approve non-controversial actions.

Zoning petitioners would also have more time to present their case under the proposed amendments.

Minor changes were also made throughout the section, mostly to clarify the language or more frequently reference state law.

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