The Violet Township board of trustees plans to maintain its regular meeting schedule throughout the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but they will prohibit the public from attending.
The trustees approved a measure March 18 to restrict who can attend the body’s regular meetings, which are scheduled for the third Wednesday of each month.
Trustees chairman Terry Dunlap said the move is a precaution related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Details were not complete March 19, but Dunlap said a conference-call phone number would be made available to members of the public for the trustees’ April meeting.
“People will be able to call in on a number and listen in on our meeting,” he said.
Although people will be able to listen, they will not be able to provide comments during meetings.
Dunlap said he believes the arrangement would not violate any state laws governing open meetings or public participation because township trustees are not required to allow public input on resolutions they approve or contracts into which they enter.
He said the trustees for years have provided a public-input period at the beginning of each regular meeting. During that period, people could address the trustees but he said such action is not required by law.
“There’ll be no public comment at these meetings,” Dunlap said.
The exception would be if the trustees schedule a public hearing, such as for a proposed rezoning.
Then, he said, trustees would have to either open the meeting to attendees or determine a method through which residents could provide comments about the issue being heard.
Dunlap said trustees would not be required to attend the monthly regular meeting in person if they have health concerns.
In those instances, he said, trustees would be able to participate via teleconference.
“It’ll be set up on a teleconference, and trustees will be able to talk and provide comment or vote,” Dunlap said.
Township department heads would not attend the meetings either, Dunlap said. Rather, they are expected to submit in writing information for the trustees.
“Hopefully, everything will be scaled way back so we won’t have to do much at these meetings other than pay bills,” Dunlap said.
In the meantime, the township continues operations. Its administrative office, however, is closed to the public, except by appointment.