MOREHEAD CITY — The planning board meeting Tuesday evening was not able to proceed as scheduled because there were not enough members present to conduct business.
The Morehead City Planning Board is comprised of seven members from within the city and its extraterritorial jurisdictions. However, only Chairman Tom Outlaw and members Ronetta Gaskill and Frank Eastman were present by the meeting’s 5:30 p.m. start time, with Tom Saunders, Andrea Smith, Sally Lumpkin and Diana Tootle absent.
“I wish we could get this going, but the bylaws (say) we have to have a quorum, which we have seven members and we only have three (in attendance),” Mr. Outlaw said. “If we had one more we could run this, but right now we can’t.”
Mr. Outlaw said the other planning board members may have been absent out of concern for the novel coronavirus pandemic. Public health guidelines recommend social distancing as much as possible, so the members and audience members who were present were seated with extra space between them.
“I understand everyone’s individual decisions based on what they think is right for themselves,” Mr. Outlaw said.
The meeting agenda contained four items of business that were postponed to a later date.
“For the applicants that are here today, (we) apologize for you coming out, and obviously, our hope and intent with calling the meeting was to try and have enough members here to do the business at hand,” City Manager Ryan Eggleston said.
Planning Director Sandi Watkins said the city will have to find a new date that works for the planning board members and applicants, possibly via teleconference. Mr. Eggleston added that Morehead City, like many other municipalities throughout the state and nation right now, is grappling with the legality and feasibility of holding public meetings over video or phone calls. He said the city is working on a policy regarding meetings it hopes to introduce soon.
“A lot of communities across the state and across the nation are grappling right now with that concept,” he said. “There’s a lot of discussion and we’re definitely working on that solution, we don’t have it right at the moment but hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll have some clearer answers.”
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