DDA permanently changes regular meeting schedule, public comment policy changes

By Megan Kelley
Staff Writer
Lake Orion— Some changes are coming to Lake Orion’s Downtown Development Authority’s Board of Directors meetings with the board approving changes to their 2023 regular meeting schedule and an addition of a public comment policy.
First, the board discussed and approved the changing of their regular meetings from the second Tuesday of the month to the third Tuesday of the month starting in 2023.
“The reason for this is because our legal counsel has conflict on the second Tuesday and we would have to hold special meetings if we needed our legal counsel to be here. So, this just simplifies the process,” said DDA Executive Director Molly LaLone.
LaLone also told the board that interim village Manager Wayne O’Neal also has a scheduling conflict on the second Tuesday of the month.
ONTV informed LaLone that they would be able to continue to broadcast the meetings if they were held on the third Tuesday.
The approval was passed with seven votes. Village council President Ken VanPortfliet was absent from the meeting.
Up next, the board addressed its current lack of a public comment policy.
The policy is expected to read: “This is a time for public comment. Each person is allowed three minutes. The public is welcome to provide public comment. This Board will not respond to any public comment. This Board will follow-up as necessary. Please direct all of your comments to the Chairperson only.”
Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett, who sits on the board, said this policy is consistent with other public participation policies at the township level.
“I think this is really good and it’s good to print on the agendas, we do that at our meetings, so that people understand the ground rules. A lot of times, when people come to these meetings, they’re here because they’re upset about something, we usually get people who are mad and they don’t understand the rules,” Barnett said.
This addition comes after several weeks of village meetings where dozens of residents came to speak, some speaking multiple times for more than five minutes.
Though DDA meetings rarely have residents come to make public comment, because of this, and because of the recent attacks on the DDA’s TIF capture, it has become more apparent to the board that a public comment policy should be put into place should the situation occur.
Barnett also stressed the importance of not engaging in a back-and-forth discussion during public comment.
“This is our business meeting. This is the time we do our business. You have things you want to talk to us about? You can reach out to DDA staff anytime during the week and that’s more of an opportunity to have a back-and-forth. This is a time, we’re here to do our business, pay our bills, in a very public manner, approve projects and we want your feedback but this is not a back-and-forth,” Barnett said.
Board secretary Hank Lorant, who sits on the village planning commission which saw a packed meeting two weeks ago, echoed Barnett’s thoughts and agreed on setting the expectations right away.
All seven present board members voted to adopt the public comment policy.

One Response to "DDA permanently changes regular meeting schedule, public comment policy changes"

  1. Cory Johnston   August 17, 2022 at 1:44 pm

    Once again, government entities are limiting public participation and setting arbitrary limits on the public for no reason other than they can. They obviously don’t want public complaints and issues to be just that, public. It is a shame that this is being done and promoted by those we elect to serve.
    For the record, the agenda for Village of Lake Orion Council and Planning Commission meetings has no stipulated time limit on comments although I hear they often arbitrarily set it at 3 or 5 minutes. This too is wrong, as it the policy of no response, as it basically says we are obligated to allow you to comment but we really don’t care what you say.


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