More Than a Public Hearing

by George R. Huffman, Dir. of Planning; Howard Needles Tammen and Bergendoff, Orlando, FL,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 8, Pg. 62-63

Document Type: Feature article


Too often, required community input is reduced to the sometimes dreaded public hearing. Many formal public-involvement programs are comprised of no more than this minimal, yet essential, activity. An effective program, however, is not a single event in the development of a project but a continuing process. The first step in creating a public-involvement program is to incorporate probable negative and positive interest issues into the request for proposal. Next, the client and design consultant should discuss and agree on the program's goals. Typically, the next stage of any project is the work program that includes data collection and analyses, development of alternatives and a draft report, a public hearing, a final report and selection of an alternative, and a final design plan. Next, a small informal public workshop, or series of workshops should be held where the public can review all the engineering, environmental and community impact findings, see a comparison of alternatives and discuss them on a one-to-one basis with the client/consultant team. Finally, the public hearing is a formal opportunity for public input. The best public hearing is one where all of the issues have been heard and addressed in prior meetings with all agencies and special interest groups. While not free from controversy, public hearings should be free from surprises.

Subject Headings: Public participation | Public opinions | Client relationships | Consulting services | Data collection | Environmental issues | Comparative studies | Team building

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