Doral council to split meetings starting Jan. 15

The days of Doral City Council meetings lasting until the wee hours of the morning may be over.

The Council voted to split its monthly meetings into morning and afternoon sessions, starting on Jan. 15.

The morning session will start at 9 a.m. and break when that agenda is complete. The evening session will start at 6 p.m.

The idea is to square away city business that typically doesn’t attract a lot of public comment or reaction, like the consent agenda, staff reports and certain discussion items, during the morning session.

After a midday break, the Council will resume in the evening for presentations to community members, public hearings and discussion items that are likely to attract public input.

Vice Mayor Christi Fraga said the change benefits both residents and city staffers. It will be more convenient for residents — some of whom have fallen asleep waiting for their items to get discussed in past meetings — and city staffers, who won’t have to stay until the early morning hours and be back at City Hall at 9 a.m.

“It’s just important that we are efficient going forward,” she said.

With monthly meetings, the council usually has packed agendas. Fraga said split-session meetings were a better option than two meetings a month on top of zoning hearings.

“It was just too much because we also have our zoning meeting,” she said.

City Council meetings routinely ran late into the evening last year, with the November meeting lasting 7 1/2 hours. It was at that meeting, which ended at around 1:30 a.m., that the council asked city staff to look into different meeting times.

Council members have said they intend to treat this as a pilot program while gauging the community’s response.

The council meets at City Hall, 8401 NW 53rd Terr.

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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