Rules of Decorum for Audience at Board of Adjustment Hearings

Iowa’s open meetings laws mandate that the public must have access to all Board of Adjustment hearings, but that does not prevent the board from establishing rules for conduct. Adopting and abiding by clear rules will help keep your meetings efficient while allowing for public comment and testimony.

The procedure used by the Board during the public hearing on each proposal is as follows:

  1. The planner/zoning administrator presents a staff report including any recommendations.
  2. The applicant/proponent of the proposal is given an opportunity to speak.
  3. Audience members may enter testimony.
  4. At the Board’s discretion, the applicant/proponent, zoning administrator, and/or audience members are given an opportunity to enter rebuttal testimony.
  5. The Board may then close the public hearing, or continue the public hearing to another date.

The Board may request clarification of the issues presented or may ask questions at any time during the hearing. Cross examination of persons entering testimony, applicants, staff or the Board by any other party is not permitted.

Please follow these simple rules if you will be testifying during the public hearing:

  1. Come to the speaker’s podium/microphone and state your name and address.
  2. Keep your comments as brief as possible.
  3. Keep your comments relevant to the proposal and the issues.
  4. Try not to duplicate information that has already been presented.

The Board of Adjustment also encourages the submission of written testimony and information. These materials are reviewed prior to a decision. All written and graphic material presented at the hearing must be retained as a part of the permanent record. Copies of items such as photographs, reports, etc., should be made prior to submission to the Board of Adjustment, as they may not be returned.

The public hearing is recorded on tape. Please state your name each time you address the Board of Adjustment or are requested to respond to a question from the Board of Adjustment. The audio recording does not recognize head nods or shoulder shrugs. When referencing written material please refer to it by exhibit number. When referencing locations on a map please describe the location with as much detail as possible, rather than pointing to it or saying “over here.”

Persons attending public hearings are also expected to conduct themselves with decorum to assure fairness and equity in the proceedings. Participants must:

  • Step to the podium/microphone each time you wish to be recognized by the Board of Adjustment to offer a comment, or to ask or answer a question, and state your name for the record.
  • Address all testimony, comments and questions to the Board and not the other participants, the applicant, or the staff. The Board will determine the appropriateness of all questions and when and where to direct them.
  • Allow others in attendance an opportunity to present their testimony. Do not interrupt the proceedings with applause, heckling, outbursts or other disruptive behavior.
  • Address the issues and application that are before the Board. These proceedings are not the forum to discuss the appropriateness of particular land use policies, regulations, or alternatives.
  • Turn off all audible communications devices such as pagers and cellular telephones.

Download a printable copy of this page here.