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City updates coronavirus response, discusses public comments on Zoom

By Kendra Caruso | May 12, 2020
Source: File photo

Belfast — City Council relaxed some orders in the city’s COVID-19 response plan at its May 5 meeting. The vote came right before Gov. Janet Mills issued her amendments to the state’s response plan regarding reopening nonessential businesses.

City facilities will remain closed until May 31, but the City Clerk’s Office is accepting appointments for new vehicle and ATV registrations, marriage licenses, notary services and new resident registrations. City Council meetings will continue to be conducted via Zoom until May 31.

Councilor Mike Hurley expressed concern about the public bathrooms along the Harbor Walk being closed. He said there are some people who need access to bathrooms while visiting city parks and suggested that portable toilets be considered as a temporary measure while city facilities are closed.

Councilors considered allowing public comment during Zoom meetings, but decided to continue to accept only written comments posted online. Councilor Neal Harkness said he was concerned that public comment could be abused and it might impede council business.

Hurley said at a typical council meeting it is important for people to have a platform to speak to councilors, but Zoom is a different platform and he was not comfortable with requiring the mayor to read people’s comments at each meeting.

Public comment must be submitted by noon the day of council meetings to the city manager so councilors can have time to read each submission.

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