Meeting begins with rocky start

Published 11:52 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2005

By Staff
It's amazing how different municipalities handle meetings. I attended my first Brewton Planning Commission meeting Monday night. The last planning meeting I attended was in Orange Beach. It lasted nearly four hours and had about 18 items on the agenda, which was typical.
I'm used to walking into a meeting where there are dozens of architects representing their firms, loads of paperwork that is displayed on a projector, including finished blueprints and typed out plans for the parcel of land in discussion, aerial photographs and much more.
Many people would typically stand in front of the council with direct opposition to whatever was being discussed. They were conducted in a timely manner, each person was allowed to speak for five to seven minutes, and anything that shouldn't be discussed was nixed and the person was asked to kindly sit down immediately. Order had to be a necessity since there were so many items.
Despite the longevity of the meetings I thoroughly enjoyed planning meetings the most. They're very interesting - they are public meetings where anyone can listen to what kind of establishment may be coming into the area, who wants to rezone a property for business, etc.
So, when I walked into this city's planning meeting I thought it would be somewhat the same, minus about 15 items on the agenda.
To my surprise, one rezoning matter turned into a city matter and then escalated into a personal matter. It wasn't until maybe 20 minutes later the committee decided it wasn't their problem to begin with.
The Planning Commission is there to make recommendations - not settle any disputes. Personal matters regarding city property are left in the hands of the City Council, and sometimes matters could end up in court. Anything else should be hashed out prior to the meeting.
Regardless, there should have been something immediately done when the matter turned in another direction. One individual should not be allowed to stand in protest for 20 minutes repeating himself, regardless of the number of items on an agenda.
Despite the rocky beginning, the meeting eventually turned back to order, and I found myself still enjoying planning meetings the most. I just suppose that some municipalities just handle certain meetings in their own way.
Mary-Allison Lancaster is the Managing editor of the Brewton Standard. She can be reached via e-mail at

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