First Time at the Planning Commission?
If you are appearing before the Planning Commission for the first time, the following information will help you understand what is going on and help you get your views before it effectively.
The Commission is made up of 7 citizens appointed by the City Council. It considers items on its docket and either makes a recommendation to the City Council, or approves the items itself, depending on the kind of item. Most items go on to a City Council hearing for a final decision.
The Commission wants to hear your views on the items it considers. It does not expect you to be as informed on land use law and Commission procedures as those who appear before it often, such as lawyers for applicants. If you are an applicant, you must be present for the Commission to consider your docket item. If you need help giving the Commission your views, the Commission Chair will try to assist you and explain to you what is happening.
- Consent Calendar
- Written Material Available
- Speaking Procedure
- Time Limits for Speakers
- What Do You Want the Commission to do?
- Off Limits Arguments
- Second Meeting Possibility
- When Can You Leave
- For More Information
Chair/Chairman/Chairwoman - The member of the Planning Commission who chairs, or runs, the meeting. He or she sits in the center seat. The Chair is usually addressed as either Mr. Chair or Madam Chair.
Docket - The agenda listing the items that the Commission will consider at its meeting. The meeting will almost always follow the order in the printed docket, which you can get from the table outside of the Commission meeting room. At the beginning of the meeting, the Chair will announce docket items that will not be heard because they have been deferred to the next meeting or withdrawn. Don't confuse these items with the consent calendar, which is when a number of docket items is considered and acted upon all at one time.
Department of Planning and Zoning website. You should read and be familiar with the write-up of any item you wish to address the Commission about. These dockets and staff reports are available at least 8 days before the meeting.
Speaker's Form Online - You can also fill out a Speaker's Form up to the day before the meeting and submit it on the Web. Go to Alexandria City Web site as described above, get to the docket that you want and then select "Complete Speaker's Form."
Either Podium - Speak at either the right or the left podium - it makes no difference.
Listen for Your Name - The Chair will call the names of the upcoming speakers. When the Chair calls your name be ready to speak by coming up to one of the podiums; that way the meeting will not have to wait for you to make your way up to speak. You can wait in or by the benches directly behind the podiums just before you speak.
Identify Yourself - When you start speaking, state your name and address for the record of the meeting.
Speaking Etiquette - Only address the Chair or any Commissioner who is asking you a question. Don't speak or argue directly with the opposing side. This makes it easier for the Chair to run a fair meeting and maintain order. Don't speak after the public hearing part of the docket item has been closed, unless you are invited to by the Chair.