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The Local Agenda: Preliminary commenting on Glades ends today
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Today is the last day to register public comment to the Army Corps of Engineers on the proposed Glades Reservoir project during the environmental impact statement scoping period.

The Glades project, which is being proposed by Hall County to create a water supply reservoir, is being reviewed now by the corps to determine the social, economic and environmental consequences of building the reservoir.

According to the corps’ website the scoping process is an early opportunity to “give the public a chance to comment on the proposed action, recommend alternatives, and identify and prioritize the resources and issues to be considered in the EIS analyses.”

The comment period began Feb. 17.

As of April 2, the corps has 34 public comments submitted through letters, posts on the project’s website and at public scoping meetings, which were held in Oakwood, Auburn, Ala., and Eastpoint, Fla.

Comments can still be posted on the website gladesreservoir.com through today.

Details of the proposal can also be found on the website.

After the current public comment period ends, the corps will complete a draft environmental impact statement, allowing for more public comment before a final version is complete.

Commissioners to revisit public comment policy

Speaking of public comment, the Hall County Board of Commissioners signaled last week that it would take another look at its policy on allowing the public to speak at meetings.

As reported in this column last week, Hall County resident and frequent county meeting attendee Doug Aiken criticized the commissioners last week for not allowing members of the public to speak on the topic of their choosing at commission meetings.

Aiken was silenced at a meeting last month because he wanted to give his opinion on a subject that wasn’t on the meeting’s agenda — the county’s pending sale of the old jail.

In his critique, Aiken claimed that commissioners were blocking his First Amendment right to petition government.
While the commission allows public speakers to comment on a topic of their choosing at work session meetings, it limits topics to ones on the agenda at commission meetings.

In response to Aiken’s critique, Commissioner Craig Lutz proposed revisiting the comment policy.

“While I think his argument is flawed, it got me to ponder holes in the way we accept our communication,” Lutz said during Thursday’s commission meeting.

The commissioner pointed out that Congress restricts the public from speaking on the floor while in session.

Still, Lutz conceded that work sessions are typically held at 3 p.m., while many people are still at work.

Commissioners unanimously voted on Thursday to revisit the issue at their next work session on Monday.

Flowery Branch City Council has also considered moving public comment from its work session to City Council meetings recently, but has not finalized that change yet.

Aaron Hale covers government issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:
ahale@gainesvilletimes.com
facebook.com/TimesAaronHale
@HaleGainesTimes

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