Metro Council hosts first-ever virtual public hearing

Posted at 9:56 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 23:21:59-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For the first time ever, people had an opportunity to share their thoughts with the Metro Council without leaving their homes.

Tuesday night was the Metro Council’s third virtual meeting since the COVID-19 outbreak began. Most council members were not present in council chambers and were participating online in an effort to practice social distancing.

Members of the public had a chance to weigh in on around 40 zoning bills by calling into the meeting. Vice Mayor Jim Shulman said this gave people an opportunity to offer opinions on bills while still practicing social distancing. This was the Metro Council’s first public hearing since March 5.

The meeting got off to a slow and bumpy start as Vice Mayor Jim Shulman called the roll. Many council members experienced technical issues while attempting to communicate.

Almost every bill that was scheduled to be up for a public hearing was moved to future meetings in June or July. Multiple council members said they weren't comfortable voting on these bills because they wanted to make sure people had a fair chance to weigh in on the issues.

One caller did criticize the process and said council members should hold off on voting on any bills that are not essential.

“We are extremely mindful of open meetings, transparency and making sure people have a chance to participate in their government,” said Vice Mayor Jim Shulman.

Members of the public who have specific concerns about issues were also encouraged to reach out to their council members directly.