Monday, January 14, 2019

Conflict Over the Third Wednesday of the Month

For decades, the Zoning Board of Appeals met on the third Wednesday of the month, the Common Council Public Works Committee met on the fourth Wednesday of the month, and all was well.

At the beginning of last year, Alderman Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward), who chairs the committee now called Public Works and Parks, decided, for her own reasons, to move the committee meeting to the third Wednesday of the month--the same night as the ZBA meeting. Last year, the PW&P Committee met at 5:15 p.m. and the ZBA at 6:00 p.m. At the beginning of the year, when both meetings were taking place at City Hall, the back-to-back meetings were problematic. Forty-five minutes didn't seem enough for the PW&P Committee. Audience members who wanted to ask questions of DPW superintendent Rob Perry weren't able to because the time was up and the members of the ZBA were in the wings, ready to take their positions on the dais, as were applicants for zoning variances. When the PW&P Committee moved its meeting to the Central Firehouse at mid-year, having both meetings on the third Wednesday was a problem only for those who wanted to attend both meetings, but this year it seems, since Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) is ambulatory again, all Council meetings will be back at City Hall.

At the informal meeting of the Common Council last Monday, Halloran announced her intention to schedule the PW&P Committee meeting for the third Wednesday of the month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., asserting that the city clerk had told her the room in City Hall was the Council Chamber and Council business should take precedence. The ZBA, said Halloran, would have to change its meeting time to 6:30 p.m. The listing for Wednesday, January 16, in the post "Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead" was originally based on that information. 

It turns out, the ZBA will not be moved. It will continue to meet at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall on the third Wednesday of the month, as it has for decades. The Public Works and Parks Committee will meet at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall on the third Wednesday of the month, unless it decides to move back to the fourth Wednesday of the month, which was its traditional meeting day.

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