The Town of North Hempstead will go back to holding strictly virtual meetings less than three months after re-opening its proceedings to the public, officials said Thursday.
The town’s general board meetings, Solid Waste Management Authority meetings and upcoming budget hearings will all be held remotely without in-person public attendance starting on Sept. 30, according to a release.
In the release, the town referred to legislation signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this month that permitted virtual meetings to continue for municipalities throughout New York in an effort to reduce the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
An executive order was signed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in March 2020 that authorized public meetings to be held virtually. That provision was lifted on June 25 of this year, when the state’s disaster emergency ended.
“This commonsense legislation extends a privilege that not only helps New Yorkers participate safely in the political process, but also increases New Yorkers’ access to their government by allowing for more options to view public meetings,” Hochul said in a release earlier this month. “This law will continue to bolster the open and transparent style of government that we’re committed to maintaining in the Empire State.”
“It is important to still remain cautious and to adhere to social distancing guidelines,” North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth said in a statement to Blank Slate Media. “We believe it is in the best interest to continue holding our Town Board meetings remotely for the time being. This helps us take the necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of our residents.”
Officials did not say when the remote meeting restrictions would be lifted.
Town officials said the legal notices for public hearings scheduled for the town’s next board meeting on Sept. 30 will be updated accordingly. The hearings will be postponed before the board sets new hearing dates, which will also be held virtually, during that meeting.
Officials also said that any public comments previously offered and included for hearings that will be rescheduled at a later date will remain a part of that hearing’s record. The town will hold their meetings at their regularly-scheduled 7 p.m. time, with streaming services available at northhempsteadny.gov/townboardlive.
Public comments can also be submitted to the board by emailing [email protected], but they must be submitted at least an hour before the meeting begins, officials said.