Summit County's Future Public Meetings Could Fuse In-Person and Virtual Elements
County Development Director Pat Putt says that in the not-too-distant future, the county will return to live meetings with the County Council and their Planning Commissions.
But after the past year of meeting virtually over Zoom, it’s likely that public meetings will change for the better.
It may be hard to believe that there were some silver linings in the past year of the pandemic. But Putt said there could be one, due to the changes they had to make with public meetings.
“This I can tell you, there’s so few things that have come out of the pandemic that are good,” he said. “One of those few things are what we’ve learned going to a remote format. I believe we will begin to transition back to live meetings. The time frame on that, when, is I think a little ‘to be determined,’ but it’s coming on the near horizon. What I truly believe will happen is that even though we may go back to live meetings, everything we’ve learned from remote access to those meetings, I believe we will begin to integrate into a hybrid.”
As an example, he said an East Side Commission public hearing last year on Zoom drew 120 attendees who wouldn’t have been able to fit inside the Kamas Services Building.
In similar fashion, the recent meeting regarding the Highland Flats development drew roughly 220 people.
“They didn’t have to leave their houses, or skip dinner,” Putt said. “They could give their kids a bath that night. They could listen, review and comment remotely. We’re working on that. Our colleagues in the IT Department, Ron Boyer and his crew, have already been putting together a strategy on how we can continue that remote public comment, that participation.”
Putt said he supports the idea of incorporating live meetings with the virtual meeting tech they’ve learned to use.
“Again, the best decisions are made with the most input involved,” he said. “There’s the old saying that you’re so affected by those who show up. This just gives more people a chance to show up, and be able to be part of the decisions that will affect them and their neighborhood. I’m 100 percent about being able to create those opportunities. I’m excited about it, actually.”