How to Participate in Public Meetings
What is a Public Hearing?
A public hearing is the formal process by which decision makers (e.g. City Council or Planning Commission) review an application, take testimony, and make decisions. Public hearings are often required by law and can be held on a variety of topics including zone changes, subdivisions, or code amendments. Public hearings are often just one part of the agenda for a public meeting.
What Can I Expect?
City Council and Planning Commission meetings generally follow a similar format. Printed agendas are available at the back of the room and are always available online.
A typical agenda for a public meeting looks like this:
1. Call the meeting to order, roll call, pledge of allegiance
2. Approval of agenda and past meeting minutes
3. Citizen’s right to speak/public forum – This is the time when any person may speak on any subject not appearing on the agenda. Comments are limited to three (3) minutes per person.
4. Consent agenda (City Council only) – This is used to streamline Council meetings by grouping routine, noncontroversial topics into a single agenda item that can be discussed and passed with a single motion and vote.
5. Public hearings – The public hearing is a formal process that mimics a judicial proceeding. Often an agenda will include several public hearing items, and all steps will be repeated for each public hearing.
Tips for Public Comment:
- Sign up on the roster sheet in the back of the room (there is a different sheet for each agenda item).
- If you intend to speak on a property-specific item, you will be sworn in when the public hearing is opened by the presiding officer (item 5a at left). You will be asked to stand (at the same time as staff and the applicant), to raise your right hand, and to answer this kind of question: “Do you swear to tell the truth in this matter as you know it?” An appropriate response would be “yes.”
- Wait to be called to the podium.
- At the podium, state your name and address and spell your last name before you make your comments.
- Zoom attendees will be called on by the Chair.
- Address your comments to the decision makers.
- If you have questions for staff or the applicant, they will be answered after all public testimony is heard (see 5h).
- Comments may be time limited at the discretion of the presiding officer, generally to three (3) minutes.
- Try to stick to your point; concise comments are often most effective.
When are Public Meetings/Hearings?
City Council has regular business meetings (including public hearings) on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month at 6:30 p.m. Planning Commission has regular business meetings on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month at 6:30 p.m. Meetings may be cancelled if there are no scheduled agenda items or public hearings; check the city's online calendar to confirm.
What is a Study Session?
Council usually meets in study session on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month. Planning Commission has less frequent study sessions. A study session is a public meeting used to inform decision makers or to seek policy direction; no formal decisions are made.
What if I can’t be there in person?
- Comment in advance: You can submit comments online at www.wheatridgespeaks.org until mid-day the day of or day before the meeting.
- Join on Zoom: Council and Planning Commissions are live streamed on Zoom so attendees can join virtually. Find the link and phone number on the city’s online calendar.
- View live or later: Public Meetings are recorded and can be viewed live or later on Wheat Ridge Channel 8 or YouTube.