2011 Board Public Hearings

Public bodies, such as the Town Board and Planning Commission, are sometimes required by state law to hold public hearings.  Although a public hearing is also a public meeting, the main purpose of most public hearings is to obtain public testimony or comment.  A public hearing may occur as part of a regular or special meeting, or it may be the sole purpose of a special meeting, with no other matters addressed.

There are two types of public hearings, legislative and quasi-judicial, and it is important to understand the distinction between them.
The purpose of a legislative public hearing is to obtain public input on legislative decisions on matters of policy. Legislative public hearings are required by state law when a Town addresses such matters as comprehensive land use plans or the annual budget. Legislative public hearings are generally less formal than quasi-judicial public hearings.
The purpose of a quasi-judicial public hearing, unlike legislative ones, involve the legal rights of specific parties, and the decisions made as a result of such hearings must be based upon and supported by the "record" developed at the hearing. Quasi-judicial hearings are subject to stricter procedural requirements than legislative hearings. Most quasi-judicial hearings held by local government bodies usually involve land use matters.