Rules for Public Comment
The Gaston County Board of Commissioners hold their regularly scheduled meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each Month, 6:00 PM, at the Gaston County Courthouse, 325 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Way, in the Harley B. Gaston, Jr., Public Forum - second floor.
- Work Session Meetings (Non-Voting) - second Tuesday 6:00 p.m.
- Regular Meetings (Voting) - fourth Tuesday 6:00 p.m.
A public comment period is provided at both regularly scheduled meetings. Citizens wishing to address the Board will sign up to speak at the meeting (See #5 below).
The following Rules of Decorum (Resolution 2022-103, April 26, 2022) shall be followed throughout all public comment periods to ensure this part of the Agenda is conducted in a civil and orderly manner:
- Public Comment (Citizen Recognition) Period: Each speaker is allocated up to three (3) minutes to speak. No public comment period shall extend beyond one (1) hour. However, the Chair reserves the right to adjust the time limitation for individual speakers or the overall time period as necessary for the efficient and effective conduct of business
- Public Hearings: Citizens may address the Board members in public hearings provided the comments are directly related to the subject matter of the public hearing. Each speaker is allocated up to three (3) minutes to speak. However, the Chair reserves the right to adjust the time limitation for individual speakers.
- A speaker may not share or relinquish any remaining time they have not used to another speaker.
- Speakers are only allowed to speak one (1) time during the public comment period.
- Persons who wish to speak must register on the sign-up sheet located on the information desk inside the meeting room. Sign-up sheets will be available one hour prior to the start of each meeting.
- Speakers who have prepared written remarks or supporting documents are encouraged to leave a copy of such remarks and documents with the Clerk to the Board. It is recommended that groups or delegations select their spokespersons in advance of the meeting.
- Speaker substitutions at the meeting are not allowed.
- Speakers shall provide their name and address at the start of their comments.
- Speakers shall refrain from personal attacks and/or threats directed towards County staff, elected Board members, or members of the public.
- Speakers shall be civil and courteous in their language and presentation. Insults, profanity, use of vulgar language or gestures, or other inappropriate behavior are not allowed.
- Speakers shall limit their comments to matters that are germane to, or within the jurisdiction of the Gaston County Board of County Commissioners.
- Campaigning for political office shall be disallowed by the Chair.
- Speakers shall address the Chair with any, and all public comments. Comments, questions, jeering, or other interruptions from the audience are not allowed. Speakers shall likewise not address or respond to members of the audience.
- During Public Comment (Citizen Recognition) periods, speakers should not expect Board members to comment on or respond to their comments directly during the meeting. The Chair, or presiding officer may, however, request the County Manager’s office to follow up with a speaker after the meeting or provide additional information to the Board at a later date.
- During Public Comment (Citizen Recognition) periods, speakers may not use the audio-visual equipment located in the hearing room or otherwise make audio-visual presentations. Other visual aids, including, but not limited to, signs, banners, flags, and other props are not allowed.
- The Chair, or presiding officer, has the authority to enforce the Rules of Decorum. Failure to obey these Rules may result in the forfeiture of the remaining speaking time and possible criminal charges. Individuals who engage in egregious or repeated violations may be asked to leave the meeting. Speakers and members of the audience should note the following legal provision from North Carolina General Statute § 143-318.17:
“A person who willfully interrupts, disturbs, or disrupts an official meeting and who, upon being directed to leave the meeting by the presiding officer, willfully refuses to leave the meeting is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.”