Published public notices play big role for citizens

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, April 10, 2011

Anyone questioning the wisdom of requiring public notices to bepublished in the newspaper need look no further than a Wednesdaynight hearing on a controversial proposed housing development inBrookhaven for proof on why they should.

City officials were alerted to the hearing while perusing the legaladvertising section of this newspaper last week. They and otherswho saw the notice rallied to bring a sizable crowd to theGovernment Complex for the hearing to learn more about thedeveloper’s plans.

Questions of “what if” come to mind.

What if there were no requirement that the public hearing notice bepublished in the newspaper? What if, as some government officialswould like to see, the only notice was on the Internet and no onesaw it?

A possible outcome would be that the developer held the “public”hearing, heard no opposition and then proceeded to build thehousing as envisioned. Soon, neighbors would see springing up ahousing development they may not want and be in no position to stopit.

Like open meetings and public records laws, public noticepublication laws play a vital role in the keeping citizensinformed. Published notices may occupy a small part of thenewspaper, but what they deal with can have a major impact onpeople’s lives.