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Public comments reinstated

The Buckingham Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted unanimously Monday, May 11, to reinstate the board meeting public comments previously suspended in an emergency ordinance.

In an emergency BOS meeting held Tuesday, March 31, the board passed a Continuity of Government Ordinance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a majority of the board also voting to temporarily suspend public comments at regular meetings during the emergency declaration.

While the public has since been able to submit comments on specific public hearings taken place at the board meetings via email, letter or voicemail, residents were not able to present their general thoughts, grievances and suggestions to the board by way of an official public comment section during the suspension.

In March, County Administrator Rebecca Carter said the restriction on comments aimed to limit the length of meetings during the emergency declaration.

On Monday night, Carter told the board various members of the public had been upset by the initial decision to suspend the comments. Some residents felt the temporary removal was a violation of their rights to submit comments to the board. Carter let the supervisors know they could vote to reinstate the public comments if they felt inclined to.

District 4 Supervisor Thomas Jordan Miles III made the motion to reinstate the comments, which was seconded by District 3 Supervisor and Vice Chairman Don Matthews.

Miles was the only supervisor to vote no to the initial removal of the comments back in March.

Although citizens cannot physically attend board meetings, public comments may be submitted by paper or electronic means.