Up & Coming Weekly

May 16, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 9 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM MAY 17 - 23, 2023 UCW 9 NEWS Council shortens time to sign up to speak at public forums by BEN SESSOMS, CityView Today To make their voices heard before the Fayetteville City Council, resi- dents must now sign up to speak at the council's monthly public forums by 5 p.m. the day of the meeting. Previously, residents could sign up until the beginning of the meetings, which usually start at 7 p.m. e City Council holds public forums monthly during its meet- ings on the second Monday of each month. e City Council approved the change May 8 by a vote of 5-4; coun- cil members Derrick ompson, D.J. Haire, Kathy Jensen, Brenda McNair and Mayor Pro Tem Johnny Dawkins voted for the change. Council members Mario Benavente, Shakeyla Ingram, Courtney Banks- McLaughlin and Deno Hondros voted against it. Mayor Mitch Colvin was not present at the meeting because of a family emergency. Jensen, whose committee spear- headed the change, argued that the new sign-up process is more efficient and allows city officials to better assist residents who wish to speak. "If the person has a question, we can make sure that we take care of it," Jensen said. Haire pointed out that residents can still sign up by email or phone if they can't do so in person by 5 p.m. Benavente said he is concerned the new policy could exclude people who prefer the in-person sign-up. "Some people don't go online, and some people just would rather be here and hear it themselves or take some of the agendas that are printed out for them in person," Benavente said. "ose folks who are not on the computer all the time may not be tech savvy, who still want to participate in the public forum," Benavente continued. "Should they arrive during the day of the meet- ing where we have public forums, (they should) have a way to sign up. I think eliminating that without any real evidence of harm in the way that we currently do things, it's just a sort of unnecessary restriction on people's ability to participate in the public forum." e deadline to sign up for public hearings, as opposed to public fo- rums, will not change. State law requires a public hear- ing for certain municipal policy changes such as the term extension proposal debated by the City Coun- cil weeks prior. e deadline to sign up for those hearings will still be until the start of the meeting. Council member Ingram said the difference in policies could cause confusion. "It doesn't make sense to have two different times to be able to sign up for anything," Ingram said. Get FREE BOOKS for your child D o l l y P a r t o n ' s I m a g i n a t i o n L i b r a r y m a i l s f r e e h i g h - q u a l i t y , a g e - a p p r o p r i a t e b o o k s t o c h i l d r e n f r o m b i r t h t o a g e f i v e ! T h e N o r t h C a r o l i n a P a r t n e r s h i p f o r C h i l d r e n a n d t h e S m a r t S t a r t I n i t i a t i v e h e l p f u n d t h i s w o r k . www.unitedway-cc.org S i g n U p T o d a y ! BEN SESSOMS, City View Today. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com 910-484-6200. Fayetteville City Council voted to shorten the time period for residents to sign up to speak at monthly public forums. e deadline for public hearings remains the same. (Photo courtesy City of Fayetteville)

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