Orange Park, FL

Orange Park Council approves remote public comments at meetings

Julie Morgan

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Screenshot of OP Town Council meeting

The five-member Orange Park Town Council unanimously approved an amendment that allows citizens to make public comments “via communications media technology” at council meetings.

This required an amendment to the standing rules.

Last September, the standing rules were amended to allow council and committee members the same provision.

Rule 5 of the standing rules allows members to participate in meetings remotely when there are “extraordinary circumstances.”

Extraordinary circumstances are defined as “an absence resulting from illness, emergency, military service, or other unforeseen event as determined by the good judgment of those members physically present.”

The same rule now applies to those who would like to make a public comment, but you must submit a request. To “comment or testify” virtually, residents must submit a request to the Town Clerk no later than the close of business the day before the meeting.

Tuesday night’s discussion lasted less than three minutes before the 5-0 vote. However, at previous meetings, there was more discussion from the council as well as comments from meeting attendees.

In January, Mayor Randy Anderson said Orange Park residents had reached out to him about being able to comment virtually when COVID numbers are high.

During a discussion on this same topic last month, one Orange Park resident expressed her concern about someone showing pornography during a call.

At the same council meeting, there was a question about how to get the word out about changes to the rules. Councilwoman Susana Thompson suggested including this information in water bills.

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