WASHINGTON — Without comment, the City Council on Monday approved new rules regarding public comments at city meetings.
An amended ordinance updates a 1983 ordinance that dealt only with public comments at council meetings. All city meetings are included in the updated ordinance.
The per person time limit for a public comment at a council meeting remains five minutes. There's a three-minute time limit per person for other city meetings.
In both cases, the presiding officer at a meeting can extend the time limit for a speaker.
There's a maximum 20-minute total time period for public comments at a council meeting and a maximum 15-minute total time period for public comments at other city meetings.
A majority vote of the council or the committee holding a meeting can extend the maximum total time.
"Besides updating the 1983 ordinance, the new rules strike a balance between how many people can speak at a meeting and ensuring that city business can be conducted in a timely manner," Alderman Brian Butler said at last week's council committee of the whole meeting.
Aldermen Dave Dingledine and Brett Adams said at the meeting they like the flexibility in the new rules.
Other rules in the amended ordinance deal with when the presiding officer can end a public comment, redundant public comments and decorum when making a public comment.
People who wish to speak at a city meeting no longer need to give advance notice and the requirement to provide their home address before speaking has been eliminated, bringing the city in compliance with state law.
Also at Monday's council meeting:
* Alderman Jim Gee said he attended a blessing ceremony last weekend for Washington's first Habitat for Humanity home at 301 Lynnhaven Drive. Homeowners Josh and Melinda Worcham were presented with keys.
Gee said St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Washington, master sponsor for the home build, has raised enough money to sponsor another Habitat home build in the city.
"It's great to see something positive happen on that property," Mayor Gary Manier said about the new Lynnhaven home.
The home that used to be on the lot sat empty for more than three years and became an eyesore in the otherwise well-kept neighborhood before it was demolished in summer 2016 after being acquired by the city through a judicial deed. Nobody lived in the home after its owner died in June 2013.
Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria Area submitted the highest of three bids — $11,500 — for the vacant lot.
* The council approved a parking ban on the northeast side of Eagle Avenue from the driveway of the Central School District campus parking lot to 20 feet beyond the crosswalk northwest of the Eagle and Bobolink Drive intersection.
"This is a busy area. With the geometry of the roads, extending the no-parking area there makes it safer," said Washington police Master Sgt. Jeff Stevens.
* Roger Traver, the Washington Fire Department's executive director of operations, said Santa Claus will ride a fire truck through the city again Dec. 21. The route will be posed on the department's Facebook page.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.