Your Rights as a Neighbor
As a neighbor, you may submit written comments prior to a public hearing. These are usually read in the minutes. You may speak at the hearing either in favor or against the proposal. You may want to review the proposal with the Planning Department before outlining your concerns. If there is a lengthy agenda, the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) may impose limits on the time the public is allowed to speak. We suggest having a spokesperson for your neighborhood to speak on behalf of the neighbors.
In accordance with IC 36-7-4-902 (g), a person may not communicate with any member of the BZA before the hearing with the intent to influence the member’s action on a matter pending before the board.
The chairperson of the commission or board hearing the proposal directs all public hearings and will open the public hearing by explaining the rules of procedure. Usually, the rules include an opening presentation by the petitioner or representative describing the proposal in detail and how it complies with the current local standards.
The chairperson will then open the floor to anyone in the public wishing to speak in favor of the proposal, followed by anyone in the public wishing to speak against the proposal or raise questions. The petitioner or representative will take down all questions and concerns from the public and will be given an opportunity to answer those questions or concerns.
If the petitioner or representative has not addressed all public concerns or questions, the chairperson can request for the questions / concerns to be repeated. Once the chairperson is satisfied that all issues have been discussed, the public hearing may be closed, so commission or board members may ask questions. Once the public hearing is closed, only the board or commission members may ask questions.