Upcoming Municipal Meetings - How, When, & Where
MOUNT POCONO (JUL 29 2020) -- With COVID-19 restrictions in place, and the state seeing a statewide resurgence of the disease, the Top of the Mountain municipalities have taken various approaches to public meetings. Tobyhanna is continuing online meetings, while Coolbaugh and Mount Pocono have resumes live, in person meetings.
TOBYHANNA - Upcoming for Tobyhanna are the Board of Supervisors work session on Monday, August 3, at 6 pm; the Economic Development Authority has its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, August 5, at 6 pm; and the Planning Commission regular meeting is Thursday, August 6, also at 6 pm.
The public can attend the meetings online. The easiest way to do that is to go to the Tobyhanna Township page and click on the "Join the Meeting" button at the top of the page. You may need to scroll through the panels at the top to find the meeting that you want. Alternatively, attendees may log in direct to the "Go to Meeting" service used by the township. To log in from any connected device, go to https://global.gotomeeting.com/ and use the meeting code to attend. The Supervisor's code is 717-923-877, the development authority code is 292-418-653, and the planning commission meeting ID is 561-815-309. You can also join the meeting using a telephone by dialing 669-224-3212 for the supervisors meeting, 646-749-3112 for the development authority, and 408-650-3123 for the planning commission. Use the same meeting ID for telephone connections as for video. Public comment is taken during the meeting by video or telephone, but users may also submit written comments using email addressed to Assistant Township Manager Autumn Canfield at email@example.com.
The township's use of the online video service has been relatively smooth. At a recent meeting they successfully took over 70 public comments on short term rentals without difficulty, and they conducted a public hearing on a zoning matter, all without the technology problems which have plagued Mount Pocono's use of a free telephone conferencing system instead of one of the video systems.
COOLBAUGH - Coolbaugh Township went back to live in-person only meetings in July. They had used an online video conference system which was usually smooth, although some members had difficulty with bandwidth or internet speed from their locations that resulted in their video dropping or freezing.
Upcoming meetings are the regular supervisor meeting on Tuesday, August 4, at 6 pm, the planning commission meets Monday, August 10 at 6:30 pm, and a public hearing on the Short Term Rental ordinance on Tuesday, August 18, at 6 pm. All meetings are held in the spacious second floor meeting room at the Pocono Mountain Public Library, 5500 Municipal Dr, Tobyhanna, PA 18466, directly across from the township offices off of Route 611.
Masking and social distancing are required and there is a limit of 25 people in the room at a time. Supervisors and staff are all spaced at least six feet from one another, and from the audience, who are also spaced at least six feet apart. During a meeting supervisors remain masked at all times, as do members of the public. Meetings are typically only about an hour in length and often no members of the public attend, so crowding is not an issue. That will not likely be the case for the August 18 meeting, however. A large crown is anticipated for that meeting, at which the board will take up the Short Term Rental ordinance. There's no word yet on how they intend to handle the logistics of a large number of residents wishing to participate in the hearing.
MOUNT POCONO - The COVID meetings in Mount Pocono have been by far the worst experience of any of the Top of the Mountain municipalities. Plagued by technical problems, such as echoing, the inability to hear council and/or audience members, dropped calls, and more, the marathon meetings can be more than a challenge to get through. Council returned to in person meetings last month with no opportunity to dial in and listen or participate by either phone or video. Channel 570, an independent business providing video coverage of events, often will live stream the meetings. Counsel members and the mayor can be seen often removing or lowering their masks to speak, and often leaving them off for prolonged periods of time, as can audience members. Because the borough meetings are typically three and more hours in length, many have questioned the decision to return to live meetings. Unlike Tobyhanna and Coolbaugh, Mount Pocono also has a Pocono Mountain Regional police officer attend the meetings. A fully attended meeting has seven council members, the interim mayor, the solicitor, the Borough Secretary/Treasurer, two junior council members, two zoning officers, and the cop. With the 25-person limit, that leaves only ten seats available for press and public attendance. Prior to the public health emergency, it was not unusual for thirty members of the public to attend meetings. The next meeting of borough council is on Monday, August 3, at 7 pm on the second floor of the borough building. The deadline to be placed on the agenda as a "Person to be Heard" is noon on the Thursday prior to the meeting, Thursday, July 30. To request to be placed on the agenda send an email to the Borough Secretary, Lori Noonan, with a brief statement of the matter you wish to address - firstname.lastname@example.org.