Shrewsbury selectmen approve public comment policy

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SHREWSBURY – A new policy governing public comment at Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen meetings is officially on the books after it was unanimously adopted by the selectmen during a meeting last week.

Selectman Beth Casavant first proposed developing such a policy back in May. The matter then came before the board again on June 14.

“I know it’s something that the School Committee has a policy on, and I know that also other boards of selectmen and select boards have this policy,” Casavant said in her initial presentation last month. 

This policy will be in effect for the board’s next scheduled meeting on June 28. 

Selectmen collaborate on policy

Casavant collaborated with Chair Moe DePalo to refine the language of the board’s new policy, taking into account feedback from other selectmen.

Casavant said that the policy noted that, if there is a public hearing scheduled during a meeting, separate discussions in public comment will not be permitted on the topic.

Under the policy, individuals who want to speak during Board of Selectmen meetings will have to sign up to speak by the end of day Monday before the meeting. 

Individuals can sign up for public comment by letter, by calling the board’s office at 508-841-8504 or by emailing [email protected]. Any request should include the person’s name, address, whether they’re representing an organization and a topic to be discussed. 

The chair, who presides over the selectmen’s meeting, has the right to rule that someone is out of order. 

Behaviors that may lead to this include speaking out of order, expressing obscenities, threats or inflammatory words or engaging in other disorderly conduct during a meeting, according to a copy of the policy shared with the Community Advocate.  

Under the policy, the public comment period is scheduled not to exceed 15 minutes with comments being limited to three minutes per person or group. 

Selectmen discuss policy

During last week’s meeting, Casavant asked if her fellow selectmen had tweaks, adding that she was hoping they could approve the policy and begin “test driving” it. 

The selectmen discussed some of the details of the policy, such as whether to have speakers’ names on the agenda and when people should alert the selectmen that they want to speak.

Selectman Michelle Conlin asked how the 24 hour notice would be affected by a Monday holiday.

Town Manager Kevin Mizikar noted that emails and voicemails are timestamped. 

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