Standing Rules For Term 2019-2021
The following Standing Rules shall govern the West Hartford Town Council
1.(a) Subject to Rule 2, regular meetings shall be held at 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month except that there shall be one meeting during each of the months of July, August and December, the dates of which shall be set by resolution.
(i) When any regular meeting date is a public holiday, the regular meeting shall be held on the next following business day or as established by resolution of the Town Council.
(ii) The Town Council may take action to adopt budget-related resolutions and ordinances for the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget at any regular meeting or special meeting prior to any budget deadline set by order of the Governor or state law, provided that the Town Council shall schedule and hold at least two public hearings prior to adopting the budget, in accordance with the Town Charter. For the fiscal year 2021-2022 budget, the second meeting in April 2021 shall be dedicated to budget-related resolutions and ordinances, provided however, that other items may be placed on the agenda where necessary to comply with state law.
(b) In addition to the foregoing regular meetings, the Town Council shall hold one Community Comment meeting in each month except July or August or in November during the year of municipal elections. Though this Community Comment meeting may be held prior to a regular Town Council meeting, the date, time and location of such meeting shall be determined by the President based upon the number of items to be considered; the Town Council’s schedule of other meetings and public hearings; and the desire to hold the meeting at an alternative location in the interest of better engaging the public regarding issues of concern. Any West Hartford elector or taxpayer may make written request to address the Town Council at such meeting regarding: (1) any subject matter(s) upon which the Council may act within the scope of its authority; or (2) community events of a charitable or nonprofit nature regarding which the signer of the communication wishes to obtain the support or participation of the Town Council, provided the subject matter of such communication is not otherwise subject to public hearing by the Town Council. Following determination by the President of the Council that the matter in question is consistent with the requirements of this rule, a communication shall be placed on the agenda of the next Community Comment meeting which is not less than seven (7) days following actual receipt thereof. The signer of such a communication or the spokesperson(s) for any group whose communication is so received, may address the Town Council regarding the subject thereof at the meeting at which said communication is received for up to five (5) minutes in total.
(c) Notwithstanding subsection 1(b), during a state of emergency the President may order that, in lieu of a Community Comment meeting, Community Comment shall be accepted only in writing. Notice of such order shall be provided to all members of the Town Council as promptly as possible. Notice shall also be posted on the Town of West Hartford website and the Town Clerk’s bulletin board, along with instructions for submitting Community Comment. In the event the President issues such an order, any West Hartford elector or taxpayer may submit to the clerk written Community Comment regarding: (1) any subject matter(s) upon which the Council may act within the scope of its authority; or (2) community events of a charitable or nonprofit nature regarding which the signer of the communication wishes to obtain the support or participation of the Town Council, provided the subject matter of such communication is not otherwise subject to public hearing by the Town Council. Submissions made pursuant to this subsection shall be sent to the Town Clerk via e-mail entitled “Community Comment: [SUBJECT].” Any such e-mail shall include the first and last name of the commenter, and a statement that the commenter is a West Hartford elector or taxpayer. The comment portion of any such submission shall not exceed 500 words. Any submission received by the Town Clerk pursuant to this subsection shall be placed on the agenda for discussion by the Town Council at its next regular meeting which is not less than seven (7) days following actual receipt thereof. For the purposes of these standing rules, state of emergency shall mean an emergency declared by the Mayor pursuant to Chapter III, Section 8 of the Charter.
(d). The President of the Council may postpone or cancel any scheduled meeting of the Town Council due to a public health or safety emergency, inclement weather, lack of business items or anticipated lack of quorum. Notice of such postponement or cancellation shall be provided to all members of the Town Council as promptly as possible and shall be posted on Town of West Hartford website, the Town Clerk’s bulletin board and the door to the room where said meeting was to be held.
2. In the year of a municipal election, the Council shall schedule two regular meetings in November: a regular meeting on the Tuesday after the election; and the installation meeting of the new Council on the second Tuesday after the election at 8:00 p.m. as required by Charter.
3. Special meetings, as defined in the Freedom of Information Act, shall be held only by resolution of the Town Council or upon written order of the President or of any four Councilors. The notice of such meetings shall specify the purpose or purposes for which such meeting is called, and the time and the place where the special meeting is to be held, and no other business shall be considered. At least twenty-four hours prior to such meeting, the Clerk shall give notice of such meeting by (1) causing a copy of the notice to be left at the residence of each Councilor and at the office of the Town Manager and (2) posting the notice of such special meetings.
4. All meetings shall be held at the Town Hall unless impracticable or, in specific cases where public interest requires otherwise, when so ordered by the Council, or when such other place shall have been specified in the notice of the meeting by order of the President of the Council.
5. At all regular meetings, the order of business shall be as follows:
- Pledge of Allegiance
- Roll Call
- Approval of Minutes
- Public Forum
- Consideration of Consent Calendar
- Unfinished Business
- New Business
- Reports of Town Manager
- Reports of Standing or Special Committees
- Consent Calendar
- Executive Session
6. The public forum under the order of business shall be that portion of each regular meeting during which residents or taxpayers of the town may each address the Council for not more than three minutes regarding any other item of the agenda which is not otherwise subject to public hearing.
7. Communications shall be limited to those formal communications from other Town agencies or officials where formal acknowledgement by the Town Council is necessary or appropriate. Petitions shall be limited to those types of petitions contemplated in the Charter of the Town of West Hartford. The signer of a communication received by the Council under the order of business, or the spokesperson(s) for any group whose petition or communication is so received, may address the Council on the subject of the petition or communication for up to five minutes in total; provided the subject matter of such petition or communication is not otherwise subject to public hearing.
8. Except as otherwise provided under these Standing Rules, any item or items upon which final action may be taken at a regular meeting under the order of business, may, upon a motion duly seconded, be moved to the consent calendar absent objection by any Councilor at any time prior to final action thereon. The consent calendar shall be voted without debate as a single item.
9. All reports to be received by the Council from any board, commission or similar body, or from any standing committee or special committee of the Council, shall be in writing and, if an ordinance or resolution is recommended therein, a copy of such ordinance or resolution shall be included with the report.
10. Members of the public who participate in meetings of the Council or any committee thereof are expected to observe the same level of decorum which is expected of members themselves pursuant to Robert’s Rules of Order. The Chairperson of any such meeting may caution any speaker or rule any indecorous remarks to be out of order and may decline to recognize the maker thereof for the remainder of the meeting.
11. All items proposed for the agenda of a regular meeting shall be submitted in writing and shall be filed with the Clerk not later than the seventh day preceding the date of such meeting, except that during a state of emergency such items shall be filed with the Clerk not later than forty-eight hours prior to such meeting.
12. The President of the Council, upon consultation with the Town Manager, shall instruct the Clerk as to what items are to be included on the agenda for each regular meeting or special meeting. Each ordinance or resolution included on the agenda shall show the name of the sponsor or sponsors.
13. The Clerk shall prepare the agenda and post the same as required by law and upon the website of the Town of West Hartford. The Clerk shall promptly provide each member of the Council with access to the agenda and all supporting materials, either electronically or in paper format in accord with Rule 35.
14. General procedures for the conduct of public hearings (excluding zoning and other ordinances but including budget hearings) and other public forums shall be posted on the website of the Town of West Hartford and made available in the Town Clerk’s office. Any changes in said general procedures and any procedures applicable to zoning or other ordinance hearings shall be announced at the commencement of each public hearing by the President of the Council. The President may direct that proponents and opponents present testimony in alternate half-hour periods. For good cause, the Council may continue a hearing to another convenient date of which due notice shall be given.
15. A registry shall be provided not later than one-half hour prior to a public hearing and any resident or taxpayer who wishes to speak may enter his or her name and address therein; provided, however, that any such person desiring to speak shall be permitted to do so whether or not he or she has made such entry in the register.
16. In the case of a public hearing on a zoning application pursuant to Charter Chapter XII, Section 5(b), including any application for designation or amendment of a special development district, the applicant shall file with the Clerk on or before the seventh day preceding the commencement of the public hearing at least twelve copies of any written reports or similar written information which the applicant intends to offer for the record at the public hearing. Where the document in question is directly responsive to questions, comments or recommendations from Town staff or town agencies or is responsive to questions from Town Council or public comment elicited during the hearing itself, the applicant is encouraged to tender same as promptly as possible, but shall be entitled to submit such documents at any time prior to the close of the public hearing. The Council may waive the requirements of this section only upon a two-third’s vote.
17. Whenever the Council shall organize as a committee of the whole for the purpose of considering a single subject, debate shall be limited to such subject, and no other subject shall be introduced until a motion to resolve into the regular order of business shall prevail and the report of such committee of the whole shall have been received by the Council.
18. The President of the Council shall appoint the following standing committees:
(a) A Public Works and Facilities Committee to be responsible for overseeing public works; cemetery operations; parking operations; plant and facilities management; waste management; energy management; and other sustainability initiatives.
(b) A Finance and Administration Committee to be responsible for overseeing the operational budget and capital improvement program; auditing and financial oversight; general government operations (assessment, human resources, information technology, town clerk, registrars of voters, corporation counsel); and approval of the settlement of tax appeals negotiated by legal counsel and staff.
(c) An Education Liaison Committee to be responsible for joint deliberation with an equivalent committee appointed by the Board of Education to consider matters of mutual interests affecting the Town government and the public schools.
(d) A Human and Community Services Committee to be responsible for overseeing leisure and social services; community development and federal/state block grant allocation; housing initiatives; library services; public health; and historic preservation.
(e) A Governmental Affairs Committee to be responsible for monitoring state and federal legislation, regulation, and intergovernmental revenue, and for developing strategy and advocacy related to the same. This committee also serves as liaison to the Metropolitan District Commission, the Capitol Region Council of Governments, the CT Conference of Municipalities and related agencies. Council-appointed liaisons to, or members of other governmental bodies, quasi-governmental bodies and regional organizations shall report to this Committee.
(f) A Community Planning and Economic Development Committee to be responsible for overseeing planning and zoning; code enforcement; economic development; and engineering.
(g) A Public Safety Committee to be responsible for oversight of police services; fire and emergency medical services; and emergency management.
(h) A Rules Committee to be responsible for amendments to these Standing Rules.
19. The President of the Council may appoint, or by Council resolution shall appoint, such special committees as may be desirable from time to time, provided that any such committee shall be appointed for an express purpose or purposes and may be appointed for a set period of time.
20. Except as otherwise provided in these Standing Rules, each standing committee shall be composed of three Councilors, not more than two of whom shall be of the same political party, and the President of the Council shall designate one Councilor on each such committee to serve as chairperson. Special committees may consist of two or more members, provided that the requirements of Connecticut law regarding minority representation shall be observed and special committees consisting of two members shall not be comprised of members of the same political party.
21. The President and Vice President of the Council shall serve, ex officio and without vote, on all standing committees and special committees, except such committees to which they are otherwise duly appointed in full.
22. Any committee may adopt a schedule of regular meetings. In the absence of such a schedule, committee meetings shall be called by the chairperson thereof, or by request of two-thirds of the committee members and may be cancelled by the chairperson thereof in a manner consistent with the cancellation of Town Council meetings pursuant to Rule 1(c). Except in the case of an emergency, committee meetings shall be called upon written notice, which notice shall be given no less than twenty-four hours prior to the committee meeting. All Councilors and the Town Manager shall be notified of all committee meetings by the Clerk.
23. All regional meetings and agendas shall be posted by the Clerk. Minutes of those meetings shall be made available to the public once they are provided to the Clerk.
24. Any Councilor may attend the meeting of any committee and, except when a committee member has or desires the floor, any Councilor shall have the privilege of the floor at any committee meeting.
25. The Town Manager or their designee shall take minutes of each committee’s proceedings. Each committee shall keep at least summary minutes of its proceedings, copies of which shall, within seven days following a committee meeting, be filed with the Clerk who shall forthwith make them available to the public by posting on the Town of West Hartford website.
26. No expenditure of funds appropriated to the Town Council shall be made, other than for routine purposes, in excess of two hundred fifty dollars except upon the express prior authorization of the President of the Council, or in excess of five hundred dollars except upon the express prior authorization of the Council.
27. The President or, in the absence of the President, the Vice President, shall preside at all regular meetings and special meetings, and at all public hearings. In the absence of the President and Vice President, the Council shall choose from among its majority members, a Councilor who shall act as President until the President or Vice President shall appear.
28. Except when a Councilor has or desires the floor, the Town Manager shall have the privilege of the floor for the purpose of providing information on the business and affairs of the Town; and the office of Corporation Counsel shall likewise have the privilege of the floor for the purpose of advising the Council on the introduction of or action on any proposed ordinance, or on any question of law or procedure.
29. No ordinance or resolution without a fiscal note, as required in accordance with the provisions of Sections 18-50 and 18-52, inclusive, of the Code of Ordinances, shall be subject to final action by the Council unless such requirement is dispensed with by vote of at least two-thirds of the Council present and voting.
30. No proposed ordinance shall be subject to final action by the Council without the written opinion by the Corporation Counsel certifying its legal sufficiency and legal correctness of form.
31. A roll call vote shall be required for final action on any ordinance or zoning matter, and otherwise shall be taken when requested by any Councilor.
32. When a question is under debate, no motion shall be received except a motion to adjourn, to limit debate, to table, to withdraw, to call the previous question, to postpone indefinitely, to postpone to a date certain, to commit, or to amend, which several motions shall have precedence in the order stated herein. A motion to adjourn or a motion to limit debate shall always be in order, even when another has the floor.
33. When a motion has been voted, it shall be in order at any time before final adjournment of the meeting at which the motion has been voted, for any Councilor who voted on the prevailing side to move to reconsider the question, and such motion for reconsideration shall take precedence over all other questions except a motion to adjourn or a motion to limit debate.
34. Withdrawal of a matter on the Council agenda may be permitted at a regular or special council meeting in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order. However, prior to the President stating the question, the sponsor(s) of any such matter who wish(es) to withdraw it from Council consideration may explain briefly the reasons for such withdrawal, but there shall be no debate.
35. Whenever any provision of law or of these rules requires that a member of the Council must be given written notice of a meeting or be provided with copies of documents pertaining to such a meeting (including, without limitation, agendas, resolutions, ordinances, communications, reports or other similar items), said requirement shall be satisfied by the Council member’s waiver of such written notice or transmission in favor of transmission thereof in electronic form to an e-mail address previously designated by the Council member. The form of said waiver shall be as follows and shall be provided in writing:
I hereby waive the delivery of written notice of meetings of the West Hartford Town Council and/or any subcommittees thereof to my place of abode. In lieu thereof, I agree to receive all such notices electronically via e-mail message sent to the following e-mail address: _____________________. Should I change my e-mail address for any reason, it shall be my responsibility to notify the Council Clerk of such change promptly.
I further agree to accept receipt of documents pertaining to any meeting of the Town Council and/or any subcommittee thereof in electronic form by way of e-mail or through the use of computer software utilized by the Council Clerk.
Within budgetary appropriations, the Council Clerk shall be empowered to utilize such computer software or other systems as may, in his/her judgment, best provide the Council with effective notice of meetings and electronic access to said documents.
Withdrawal of Zoning Petitions
36. Proposed zoning amendments, including Special Development District applications, may be withdrawn subject to the following rules:
a. Withdrawal by Sponsoring Member(s) of Town Council or Town Manager. Any amendment sponsored by the Town Manager or by member(s) of the Town Council may be withdrawn at any time until said matter is committed to the membership of the Town Council for final debate.
b. Prior to Setting Hearing. Prior to the time the Council sets a public hearing on a petition for a proposed zoning amendment, including an application for a special development district, the applicant may withdraw such petition as of right upon notification of the Council.
c. After Hearing Set but Before Beginning of Testimony. Once the Council has set a public hearing on a petition for a proposed zoning amendment, including an application for a special development district, but prior to the taking of any testimony at such hearing, the applicant may withdraw such petition provided that such petition or any other petition relating to the same area or solely to portions of the same area and asking the same changes, shall not be introduced for twelve months next following such withdrawal.The Council may waive such condition only upon a two-third’s vote of its entire membership at a regular or special Council meeting.
d. After Beginning Testimony. Once any testimony on the merits at the public hearing has begun, a proposed zoning petition, including an application for a special development district, may not be withdrawn and any such petition, or any other petition relating to the same area or solely to portions of the same area and asking the same changes, shall not be reheard within the twelve months next following the hearing on such petition, except as may be otherwise permitted in advance by two-third’s vote of the entire membership of the Council at the time of final action on the petition at a regular or special Council meeting.
37. When the Council takes final action on any zoning ordinance, the Council shall state upon the record the reasons for its action.
38. A copy of these Standing Rules shall be posted on the website of the Town of West Hartford and made available in the Town Clerk’s office.
39. Any of these Standing Rules may be suspended by two-thirds vote of the Council present and voting.
40. Robert’s Rules of Order shall be the source authority and shall control all matters of parliamentary procedure not otherwise specified in these Standing Rules.
41. Any proposed amendment to these Standing Rules shall be submitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 11 hereinabove and shall thereafter be adopted only by two-thirds vote of Councilors present and voting at a subsequent regular meeting. Prior to final action by the Council, each such proposed amendment shall be committed to the Rules Committee for review and comment unless such proposed amendment originated with the Rules Committee itself.
42. For the purposes of these standing rules, virtual meeting means a meeting or proceeding held remotely by conference call, video conference or other technology, with limited or no in-person public access, in accordance with Executive Order No. 7B issued by Governor Ned Lamont on March 14, 2020 or any subsequent executive order or state law. Notwithstanding any other section, during a state of emergency the President shall have the discretion to conduct any special meeting, regular meeting, or public hearing as a virtual meeting. The President, upon consultation with the Corporation Counsel and the Town Manager, shall determine the order of business and shall set the agenda and the rules of procedure for any virtual meeting. The President shall announce such rules of procedure at the beginning of the virtual meeting. The Town Clerk shall provide instructions on how to access a virtual meeting to every Councilor not later than twenty-four hours prior to such meeting. Instructions for public access shall be included with the posted agenda for such meeting.
43. During a state of emergency, the President may suspend or modify any of these Standing Rules that (1) impair, frustrate, or impede the ability of the Town Council to fulfill its duties or exercise its powers, or (2) conflict with public health and safety. The decision of the President to use his or her authority under this section to suspend or modify any of these Standing Rules during a meeting of the Council may be immediately appealed by any Councilor, and such appeal may be sustained by majority vote of the Council present and voting. If the President uses his or her authority under this section to suspend or modify any of these Standing Rules when the Council is not convened, the President shall immediately certify in writing to the Town Clerk the Standing Rule that is to be suspended or modified and the reason for such suspension or modification. Such certification shall not be valid unless approved as to form and legality in writing by the Corporation Counsel. The Town Clerk shall promptly send such certification to all Councilors. The decision by the President to suspend or modify any of these Standing Rules when the Council is not convened may be appealed by any Councilor and such appeal may be sustained by majority vote of the Council present and voting the next time the Council convenes. Any such appeal shall only be in order immediately following roll call and shall be privileged above all other motions.
General procedures for Public Hearings and Public Forums (except hearings on ordinances)
These procedures are promulgated in accordance with Council Rule 14 and shall be posted on the website of the Town of West Hartford and made available in the Town Clerk’s office. The following_________________represents the procedures for public hearings (non zoning), including budget hearings, provided that the president may modify these procedures when conditions require:
I. A sign-up sheet shall be provided one-half hour prior to the hearing.
II. Speakers will be called in order from the sign-up sheet, provided that only those persons who have not yet addressed the Council on the issues subject to hearing shall be called.
III. The President may permit a presentation by the administration prior to calling on members of the public.
IV. Unless the Council waives its rules by a two-thirds vote, only West Hartford residents or taxpayers may address the Council.
V. After each person on the sign-up sheet has spoken, the President shall call on other persons who have not yet spoken who wish to address the Council.
VI. Each speaker shall limit his/her comments to items on the notice of the meeting.
VII. All speakers shall be confined to three minutes each, except that persons providing the Council with a group’s duly authorized position on an issue may speak for up to five minutes.
VIII. Speakers may not yield their allotted time to others in order for others to expand their three minutes.
IX. If a hearing is continued to another date and time, the Council will continue the hearing by first calling speakers from the original sign-up sheet who have not yet spoken.
X. An additional sign-up sheet shall be provided one-half hour prior to the continued hearing.
XI. After the completion of the original sign-up sheet, the President shall call speakers from the new sign-up sheet in the order in which they have signed said sheet, provided that only those persons who have not yet addressed the Council on the issues subject to hearing shall be called.
XII. After each person on the sign-up sheets has been given an opportunity to speak, the President shall call on other persons who have not yet spoken at the original or continued hearing who wish to address the Council.
XIII. At the conclusion of the hearing or continued hearing, the Council may, by majority vote, permit speakers who have already addressed the Council at the original or continued hearing to address them again for an additional three minutes. The President may set a total time limitation for receiving such additional comments and shall announce such limitation prior to the above-referenced vote by the Council.
XIV. If the number of speakers and the time obligations of the Council permit, the President may announce, at the commencement of the hearing, that each speaker may have an additional specified time to address the Council.