How to Testify
Testifying at a Hearing
From time to time you and your neighbors may become concerned enough about a proposed change in your neighborhood (Special Use, Variance, Zone change, or Ordinance or Comprehensive Plan change) to speak out in public. All the decisions concerning land use, zoning, or change of laws are required to go through a public hearing. Notice of hearings is published in the newspaper.
Exercise Your Opportunity
When you have a concern about an issue it is important you exercise your opportunity. The opportunity of a hearing is provided for just that purpose, but don't waste your testimony. The following are some suggestions for making the most of your opportunity to get the attention of the Planning and Zoning Commission or County Commissioners at a public hearing:
- Be Bold
- Don't be held back because you aren't an engineer, technician, or even a very good writer, If you think that you have an idea worth considering, the chances are that it is.
- Be Informed
- Get a copy of the plan being heard or the proposed ordinance changes. Interview people on the subject at hand and research other pertinent material. Plan your comments.
- Be Reasonable
- Put yourself in the shoes of the decision-makers. They must balance all views, interests and proposals being made, and find the best course of serving the overall public good within the confines of the law. While it is your obligation to present your own interests, remember that you have legitimate competition! Be prepared occasionally to compromise.
- If You Don't Wish to Speak, Write
- At most hearings, all testimony is reviewed by the decision making body. If written testimony is specific, to the point, and concise, it will be given just as much attention as oral testimony, By necessity, oral testimony has time limits so that more people can speak, but written testimony has no length limitation, it may be effective to summarize your testimony orally within the time limits set at the hearing and then submit the details in writing.
- Know the Law
- Copies of state and County laws are available for review in the Planning and Zoning office during the regular office hours.
- Officials are not likely to make decisions in violation of county or state codes. No amount of passion, exhortation or pleading by citizens will accomplish this. (However laws can be changed). If you feel there is a bad law, organize and try to have it amended.
- Remember Your Objective
- Your objective is to persuade the decision-makers to consider your side of the issue. It doesn't help your cause to become angry or antagonistic to the group you are testifying before.
- Speak to the Point
- Public officials have heard hundreds of people give testimony. They are grateful when the testimony is pertinent, well organized, and directly regards the matter at hand. Long stories, lectures of philosophy or abstract complaints about generalities are usually a poor use of time, since the immediate problem is for the decision-makers to choose a course of action to take on a specific question.
- State Your Recommendations
- Don't leave the decision-makers wondering just what it was you wanted them to do, state your intentions clearly.
For more information on hearings, contact your local Planning and Zoning Department
256 E Court Street
Weiser, ID 83672
Phone: 208-414- 3631