Public comments to be limited at Lincolnwood village meetings
by JASON MEREL
The Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees at its May 5 meeting changed the way future meetings will be conducted, including getting rid of public comment opportunities at Committee of the Whole meetings and limiting public comments during regular board meetings.
Changes were made “to update outdated language and align it with the village code and to improve and make more efficient the public comment time period,” according to the village.
There will be a public comment period at the board’s regular business meetings going forward but not during Committee of the Whole meetings. Exceptions will be made if the meetings are held on different dates and not back-to-back as they usually are.
A public comment period no longer than 6 minutes will be allowed before trustees conduct regular business, according to assistant village manager Charles Meyer.
Additional public comment will be heard at the end of the meeting after business is conducted for speakers who did not have a chance to speak during the initial comment time. During that time, no one may speak for more than 3 minutes unless the presiding officer confirms a shorter or longer period of time to speak at the onset of the meeting.
Other changes include language detailing the censure of elected officials and clarification that speakers do not need to list their address but may identify themselves as a resident or non-resident.
“Any (board) member acting or appearing in a lewd or disgraceful manner, or who uses opprobrious, obscene or insulting language to or about any member, or who does not obey the order of the presiding officer, shall be, on motion, censured by a majority vote of the village board and, in addition, may be fined in an amount not to exceed $25 for each occurrence,” the ordinance states.
Also, board members shall address all comments and discussion through the presiding officer. Every member shall address the presiding officer as “Mr./Ms. President” or “Mr./Ms. Presiding Officer,” but shall not proceed with his or her remarks until recognized and named by the presiding officer, the ordinance states. Board members can’t hold any private discussion, nor pass between the speaker and the presiding officer when one of them is speaking, the ordinance states.
A question asking why the public comment time period needed to be improved or made more efficient was acknowledged by staff, but an immediate answer was not provided as of press time.
Many people have spoken out during the Committee of the Whole meetings recently, which delayed the start of the regular board meetings.
Also at the meeting, the board approved an extension for the certificate of registration for a recreational cannabis dispensary currently under construction at 4656 W. Touhy Ave., due to issuance delays with state licenses. The Chicago Tribune reported on May 5 that licenses awarded in a state lottery last summer have been tied up in litigation.
Trustee Chris Martel said he has no issue with the extension but wanted to make sure construction stayed on track.
A representative from Green Renaissance Illinois Holdings, the future dispensary operator, said interior demolition is completed and a permit for roof work is pending.
“We don’t want to do the interior until the roof is fixed,” the representative said. “Putting aside litigation, we wouldn’t be ready for inspection until August or September.”
Trustee Craig Klatzco wondered if the village was tying its hands by waiting for the applicant to receive the license.
“My understanding is that all the licenses that have been issued are being used,” Mayor Jesal Patel said. “But yeah, if we had a licensee with a license that came to us tomorrow, we don’t have the opportunity to say yes (to them).”
“Our hands are tied and there are too many unknowns for us to speculate on what might happen,” Trustee Atour Sargon said.
Trustees approved the village’s annual appropriation ordinance and a certificate of estimated revenues by source. The ordinance, which is based on the fiscal year 2023 budget approved at the board’s April 19 meeting, provides the ability to spend up to 115 percent of the approved budget. Certain expenditures will still require department head, village manager or village board approval, according to village staff.
On April 19, trustees approved the budget for fiscal year that began May 1 and ends April 30, 2023.
The approved budget includes $37,103,662 in revenues and $39,580,652 in expenditures. The General Fund includes $25,254,511 in revenues and $26,107,736 in expenditures from that total. The budget included $1,466,064 for capital improvements, a reduction from initial proposals, after a grant for improvements to Flowers Park from the state Department of Natural Resources was removed from the capital budget