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Additional public comment period considered for Forsyth commission meetings

FORSYTH COUNTY — In a move that could increase attendance and participation, the Forsyth County commission appears close to adding a second public comment period to its regular meetings.

During a recent work session, commissioners voted 5-0 to direct County Attorney Ken Jarrard to adjust internal rules to allow for the proposed change, which he will bring back for approval.

As is stands, the commission allows one period — near the beginning of regular meetings — for public comments.

Commissioner Todd Levent cited the 5 p.m. start time of meetings, and the fact that public hearings are held first, as potential obstacles to public participation.

“If they want to talk, they want to talk about something on the agenda.” Levent said. “They get off of work at 5 p.m. and they can’t get here by 5 p.m. if they get off at 5 p.m. They want 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour to get here.”

According to Commissioner Jim Boff, comments should come before board action on an item.

“I’ve always liked the public comments coming first, because it’s possible something in that comment actually would influence a decision in a meeting that night,” he said.

“If it comes at the end, you’ve just made a decision and now you’ve heard the piece of information that might have made your decision.”

No official time for the proposed second round of commenting has been announced, though commissioners seemed to favor something close to 6 p.m.

The change, which would require a modification to the existing commission rules, is on the agenda for Thursday’s regular meeting.