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**Updated 9 p.m. Sept. 8

Mount Pleasant trustees Monday voted to hold over a village ordinance that could alter the way residents participate in village board meetings.

The vote came after a short discussion during which attorney Chris Geary assured the board the proposed changes would set Mount Pleasant on a path similar to other Wisconsin communities.

“The larger the community, the more important that meetings are run as efficiently as possible,” he said. “In other communities there is no public comment and the expectation is that residents contact board members to get them to see their point of view.”

Village ordinance 2.43 (5) (d), as it reads currently, spells out citizen participation:

  • During public comment about non-agenda items. Board members by ordinance cannot discuss public comment subjects but can ask questions, and, if applicable, refer a topic out to a village department for follow-up.
  • After trustees during agenda items have finished their discussion as long as the citizen who wants to speak is recognized by the chair.

Under proposed changes to the ordinance, residents would no longer have the option to speak during village board meetings except during public comment, making more official the way President Mark Gleason has run board meetings since he took office in April 2013.

Gleason assured residents that as long as he’s president public comment will remain a part of board meetings but that the ordinance change clears up any ambiguity on when citizens can comment.

“I believe in public comment because it’s healthy, but past meetings were free-for-alls without any decorum,” he said. “It’s important to have … meetings that are civil and orderly with staff and trustees available after meetings.”

But Trustee Gary Feest called foul about the change being about clarity.

“Those late meetings were not because of citizens … I place the blame with the person presiding over and controlling the meeting,” he said. “It appears you are a master of that so the appearance that this change is to clarify when the language in the ordinance is clear is simply not true.”

Still, board member Sonny Havn motioned to lay the matter over until the Sept. 22 to give residents the opportunity to become more fully informed about the matter. Trustee David DeGroot seconded, and it passed 5-2. John Hewitt and Rick McCluskey dissented.

The Village Board next meets at 6:30 p.m.Sept. 22  at Village Hall, 8811 Campus Drive. Call (262) 664-7800.

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