Maybe a better way
We realize it is 20-20 hindsight to offer some tips on how to improve the public experience at controversial meetings like Tuesday’s hearing before the Douglas County Planning Commission.
We don’t feel it’s fair to board members, the public or the officials who have to tell members of the public they need to clear the hallways, to try and have these meetings at the county courthouse.
We love the Douglas County Courthouse, which is celebrating its Centennial, but it’s a building that was constructed when there were 2,000 people living in Douglas County.
One estimate we overheard on Tuesday was that there were 400 people attending the hearing on Douglas County Sewer District No. 1’s proposal to mine gravel to help defray the cost of building a new sewer retention pond.
The capacity of the commissioners’ chambers in the county courthouse is 74. Heck, the CVIC Hall only has a capacity of 290 people.
We suggest that when there’s going to be a big meeting on a hot topic, find a larger venue.
Keep the agenda down to just the item. If that means holding a special meeting, maybe at a little later time in the day, so be it.
It’s not all about the governing board, though.
We want residents to feel free to express their opinions, but it can be intimidating talking in front of a lot of people, some of whom disagree with you. The reason the county tries to dissuade people from applauding is because it chews up time and is intimidating. We don’t agree with everything anyone says, but we will defend their right to say it, even if that means people on the other side have to experience it as well.