By Jessica Mathews /

The City of Howell is looking into how to potentially provide the public with better access to view meetings.

Council met Monday night, marking the second in-person meeting following the pandemic. Resident and local business owner Dan Brockway encouraged Council to come up with some way for the public to view sessions and that he’s enjoyed the Zoom meetings and interaction.

It was stated there has been increased participation at virtual meetings compared to those held in-person, which Brockway said he thought shows both a need and a desire.

Councilman Randy Greene commented there’s nothing stopping them from doing Facebook Live or YouTube videos of meetings. Whether live or recorded and played back, Greene said he thought that there are a good number of people who just want to watch and listen to what’s happening for informational purposes.

Councilwoman Jeanette Ambrose favored a hybrid meeting option. She liked the idea of people being able to potentially participate from home and not just view the meeting, including those who might have small children and want to speak to a particular issue or agenda item.

City Attorney Dennis Perkins commented that hybrid meetings are not currently feasible and would be expensive and there are problems with hosting hybrid meetings if more people than anticipated fill the room because of social distancing. He said under current regulations, they can’t just send people home and they must be moved to another location in City Hall to view the meeting. Perkins said there are all sorts of things to consider and added that televising meetings would be a very expensive project.

Members thought it would be worth looking into the cost of a camera to stream meetings live or upload them somewhere after. City Manager Erv Suida stated that streaming is much easier than having a dialogue or a hybrid option, which becomes a nightmare, but they could probably do streaming fairly easily. Council agreed it wouldn’t hurt to get some prices, and staff is expected to report back at a future meeting.

Meanwhile, Brockway further gave Council a “gentle nudge” stating they’re about 14 months past due in revisiting marijuana’s potential place in the City. The City earlier opted out of allowing all marijuana uses and enacted a moratorium but was expected to begin discussions before the pandemic hit. The topic is expected to remain on hold until the City hires a new community development director.