Televised planning and zoning meetings possible

Scheduling could be an issue for broadcast, recording

BROOKINGS – Brookings County officials are looking into the possibility of televising Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment meetings in the future.

Audio from those meetings is already recorded, in keeping with the board’s bylaws. That is then sent to be transcribed and can be called upon later if needed, for example, in a court case.

Televising the Planning and Zoning Commission meetings was discussed during its June 5 meeting, and according to Brookings County Commissioner Lee Ann Pierce, members of that board were open to looking further into the matter.

Planning and Zoning Director Robert Hill saw two options available in carrying out the filming of meetings.

The first has his staff handling the recording duties in the AV room. Hill said that duty would likely fall upon the office manager who serves as a record keeper during Planning and Zoning meetings.

This, however, would mean she wouldn’t be able to provide as detailed of minutes as they currently take, instead noting the times of the start and end of discussions and public hearings, and so on. Then, anyone who wants more information would be able to use the indicated times to find the spot in the recordings.

The second option has the typical AV staff who handle recording of other meetings do this for planning and zoning as well. This would leave Hill’s staff to continue their current work as is. This could mean having to budget another $2,000 to handle any overtime that occurs as a result of this added work. Otherwise, recording and televising these meetings shouldn’t have much of a budgetary impact.

County commissioners agreed that broadcasting the meetings would increase transparency and present county residents a new way to stay up to date on county issues.

One potential problem that occasionally comes up is scheduling. Every now and then, the Planning and Zoning meetings have to take place in the room neighboring the chambers at the Brookings City and County Government Center if the Brookings City Council is also meeting that same night, for example.

That room does have video recording equipment, but it’s substantially lower in quality than that in the chambers, and it’s unknown if recording two meetings at once would be possible.

“That’s something I could visit with the vendor and see if that’s something that’s possible; I’m not 100 percent sure on that,” Shawn Plowman, IT support specialist, said.

Hill suggested having any boards whose members are paid also televised, but Pierce preferred to focus on the question of broadcasting Planning and Zoning first.

“Let’s start with one, see how it works, and then after that, we can discuss whether or not there should be anything else that we should televise,” Pierce said.

Contact Eric Sandbulte at [email protected]

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