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Village Council

Village Council—Council bans clapping at meetings

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No clapping, booing or displaying of signs during public comments will be allowed at Village Council meetings, according to an update to meeting rules passed this week.

In new language governing citizen participation at public meetings, “verbal approval or disapproval” of any kind in response to citizen comments is not permitted. The resolution to change the rules was passed at Council’s March 18 regular meeting in a 4–0 vote. Council member Kevin Stokes was absent.

Council President Brian Housh said he initiated the rule change after trying to stop incidents of clapping, snapping and sign-waving at recent meetings.

Housh affirmed the importance of Council hearing from as many community members as possible when making decisions.

“That’s how we make decisions, not based upon the loudest voices that come to the meeting, but on the community as a whole,” Housh said.

Clerk of Council Judy Kintner, who drafted the new language in response to a Council directive, explained that she wrote the changes to align more with Robert’s Rules of Order. She also likened clapping and booing to “potentially chilling expressions, which prevent people from speaking their mind.”

Council Vice President Marianne MacQueen referred to such public expressions as “group behavior that can intimidate people,” and said she supported the measure so that Council is a safe place for citizens to speak up.

“To really be a welcoming place where anyone can come up and speak in front of Council, we want to make it a safe place,” MacQueen said.

“A safe place is [where] you don’t have to worry about booing, or clapping for the people who you disagree with,” MacQueen added.

To Council member Lisa Kreeger, the measure is not intended to “squelch the voices of citizens in the community,” but to “hear as many voices as possible as efficiently as we can” and to make sure discourse is “always done with civility and respect for each other.” 

“I wouldn’t want anyone to think that this new rule means that Council is not interested in listening to the community,” Kreeger said. “I think it is the opposite of that.”

Kreeger also stated that Council, compared to other municipalities, allows more time for citizens’ concerns.

Council member Kineta Sanford said she agreed with Kreeger’s statement.

No comments were made from the floor from citizens. 

Two other changes were made to Council rules in the legislation. Citizen Concerns will now be later in the agenda, after Special Reports. And executive sessions were officially moved to before regular sessions, as has been Council’s practice of late.

In other Council news, Council passed 4–0 the first reading to rezone the MillWorks industrial park from industrial to a Planned Unit Development to accommodate residential and limited retail uses. No comments were made from Council or the floor.

 Council members also discussed the Village Manager search process, the upcoming assessment of the Yellow Springs Police Department and proposed new transient guest lodging regulations. These items and others from Council’s March 18 agenda will be covered in next week’s News.

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