Excerpts of the September 7, 2004 Town Council Minutes
Item 4 - Consent Agenda
Council Member Strom offered an amendment to 4l, asking that R-10 be referred to the Transportation Board and Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board as well for review.
Mayor Foy suggested setting a deadline for accepting or rejecting this item, and Mr. Horton agreed.
With regard to 4b, Nominations to Various Advisory Boards and Commissions, Mr. Horton explained that the staff had provided an additional set of applications for the Special Committee to Consider Renaming Airport Road. He requested that these names be included with the other nominations before the Council this evening. Mr. Horton recommended that the Town advertise the Committee again and continue to receive nominations up to the evening on which the Council votes.
Mayor Foy proposed removing the portion of 4b having to do with the Special Committee to Consider Renaming Airport Road. Council members agreed by consensus to discuss the item later in the meeting.
COUNCIL MEMBER WARD MOVED, SECONDED BY COUNCIL MEMBER STROM, TO ADOPT R-1 WITH THE PORTION OF 4B REGARDING THE PROPOSED COMMITTEE TO STUDY THE RENAMING OF AIRPORT ROAD BE REMOVED, AND WITH 4L AMENDED TO REFER TO THE TRANSPORTATION BOARD AND THE BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN BOARD AND TO SET A DEADLINE FOR ACCEPTING OR REJECTING THE ITEM. THE MOTION WAS ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY (9-0).
Item 15 - Reserved for Discussion of Consent Agenda Items If Necessary
With regard to Agenda Item 4b, Nominations to Various Advisory Boards and Commissions, Mayor Foy noted that there had been additional applications because of an error in the way the Town had advertised the Special Committee to Study Renaming of Airport Road. He explained that the Manager had recommended holding the Committee open until September 13, 2004, the proposed date for making appointments. Mayor Foy suggested that the Council discuss the Committee's size, noting that 60 people had applied and that the Committee would include at least three Council members. To include all of the applicants would make the Committee difficult to manage because one meeting would last three hours if everyone on the Committee wanted to speak for three minutes, he pointed out.
Mayor Foy said that he had spoken with a facilitator who had suggested having a relatively small group of 20-25 people and finding a way to include everyone else. He pointed out that Council members had made a commitment to accomplishing something relatively quickly. Mayor Foy suggested that the Council formally agree to reopen the nominations, without the Chapel Hill residence requirement, and to nominate those who already had put in an application.
Council Member Greene requested that the submission deadline be a few days before the Council makes its decision so that Council members would have a chance to think about the applications.
Council Member Hill agreed that it would not be fair to applicants if the Council saw their applications for only a few minutes.
Mayor Foy proposed extending the application deadline until Friday, September 10, 2004, to allow the weekend for review.
Council Member Greene inquired about extending the deadline for a Council decision, but Mayor Foy recommended getting started as son as possible.
Council Member Verkerk proposed holding applications open until Friday at noon.
Council Member Strom suggested that the Council appoint everyone who had applied. He asked Mayor Foy if the facilitator was skilled in working with large groups. Mayor Foy replied that the facilitator had a specific history of working with race-related issues, which requires different skills than mere dispute resolution. Mayor Foy said that the facilitator had recommended trying to keep the committee smaller because of the time issues. He pointed out that trying to manage a committee of 60 people would be expensive since it cannot be done with only one facilitator. Furthermore, having such a large group would require more staff time and resources to keep track of what is going on, said Mayor Foy.
Council Member Harrison commented that he had once been on a 41-member commission that had been skillfully facilitated. But the commission had had difficulty proceeding to any kind of conclusions, he said, and he predicted that having any kind of community dialogue with a group of more than 20 people would be difficult.
Council Member Greene proposed finding a way to keep those who had volunteered but were not chosen involved in the Committee.
Mayor Foy agreed, explaining that he and the facilitator had discussed having a core group and keeping the others involved in a formal way. But the facilitator had not made specific recommendation, he said.
Mayor pro tem Wiggins agreed that 60 people seemed like an overwhelming number of committee members. She recalled that the Council had considered establishing a dialogue about race on an ongoing basis. This might provide a basis for that, she said, but she expressed doubt that any facilitator could discuss race issues with 60 "highly-charged" people.
Council Member Ward agreed that the Committee should be limited to about 20 members. He urged Council members to be creative about providing meaningful opportunities for the other 40 or so to participate. Council Member Ward proposed perhaps interspersing the meetings with public forums. But he noted that doing so would lead to a longer process than one that would conclude by November 11, 2004. Council Member Ward remarked that it was more important to get to the right end point than to end on the right day.
Council Member Verkerk suggested using the Committee on lots 2 and 5 as a model, since it consisted of about 20 people who had held open, public meetings with time at the end for public comments. She also recommended televising the meetings later in the day.
Council Member Kleinschmidt proposed that the Council appoint everyone and then choose 20 people to serve as an executive group. The executive group might meet with the entire group on scheduled days, he said, and everyone could vote together as a group. Council Member Kleinschmidt recommended that the Council emphasize that the discussion should remain targeted on the proposed renaming Airport Road and not become sidetracked by other issues.
But Mayor Foy replied that the facilitator had pointed out that underlying issues needed to come to the table and become explicit. The Town needs to let that happen rather than directing the conversation toward a certain point, he said.
Council Member Kleinschmidt expressed concern about allowing the decision to drag on to next year, but Mayor Foy replied that he had suggested November 11, 2004, which was a "very ambitious time schedule." Council Member Kleinschmidt argued that it might be too ambitious if the Town expects to resolve all of the issues. Mayor Foy and Mayor pro tem Wiggins replied that they did not expect to resolve anything but merely to have a discussion and get some specific recommendations regarding Airport Road.
Mayor pro tem Wiggins argued that the there would be a better chance of staying focused and achieving the goal in November if the group were limited to 20-25 members. It would be contradictory to urge people to participate and at the same time that group is so big you don't want people to say much due to time constraints, she pointed out.
Council Member Hill commented that the Committee's make-up would keep it focused on Airport Road. It would be nice to have all 60 people equally involved, but unlikely that anything would be accomplished, he said. Council Member Hill recommended limiting the size to some degree so that the discussion would not be too difficult to contain.
Mayor Foy proposed that he and Mr. Horton structure some options for Council members to vote on at their September 13, 2004 meeting. Mr. Horton and the Council agreed with that plan.