Gallatin residents now have another way to learn more about upcoming developments planned across the city.
The Gallatin Planning Commission resumed streaming both its monthly work session and voting meetings online through the Zoom video conference program last month. Anyone wishing to speak during a meeting, however, must attend in person.
“It’s really important to continue to broadcast (our meetings online),” Gallatin Planning Commission Chairman John Puryear said about the decision. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to have public comment through a remote system, but it’s very good to get the information out there.”
Planning commission meetings are held on the second and fourth Mondays of every month at 5 p.m. Log-in information for each one can be found with its agenda on the city’s website.
Meetings can be viewed from a computer or by downloading the Zoom application on a phone or tablet and will not be simulcast on social media, according to Josh King, assistant city planner. Individuals can also call in and listen by phone.
“There were some technical issues with communicating with the public and ensuring that all of their equipment on their home setup was done correctly,” King said about why public comments are only allowed to be made in-person and not virtually. “We wanted to avoid those issues until we could find a way to do that more effectively.”
A recording of each meeting will be posted on the city’s YouTube page afterward, King added. Individuals can also request a copy by submitting a public records request to the city recorder’s office.
Earlier this year, crews finished installing upgraded audiovisual equipment in the Dr. J. Deotha Malone Council Chambers at city hall. The approximately $85,000 project was paid for using Tennessee CARES Act funding and gives officials the capability to broadcast meetings live on social media and any video conferencing platform simultaneously if they desire.
Despite previous decisions to scale back online broadcasts of Gallatin City Council meetings in recent months, several members of the group expressed their support Tuesday for increasing live broadcasts of their weekly meetings.
Currently, only the council's voting meetings are streamed live on the city’s website and on a public access cable channel. Those meetings, as well as the group’s biweekly committee meetings, had previously been shown live on Facebook and Zoom for more than a year while officials met virtually due to the pandemic.
“I know the social media piece isn’t everybody’s favorite because there are some… that like to come on and say ugly things about me and the council members, but it is a convenience for a lot of people,” Mayor Paige Brown told the council last month. “For better or worse… it was a bit of entertainment during Covid, but it did bring some engagement that I don’t think we had (previously).”
Brown, who has been an advocate for increasing the availability of city meetings online, said Tuesday that streaming of the council’s committee meetings is expected to resume on July 27. Details about where the broadcast will be viewable online have not yet been finalized.
Officials have previously noted that recordings of past council meetings are also available to watch on the city’s website and YouTube pages. However, that has not included committee meetings, which were not broadcast.
King said he is glad the public has more access to planning commission meetings and can more easily go back and reference them if needed.
“It helps keep us accountable for the things that we say, but it also is a way for (the public) to be engaged with the city at their convenience,” King added. “We encourage them to watch the meetings and let us know if they have any questions.”