CROWN HEIGHTS — Community Board 9 abruptly ended a more-than-two-hour meeting without allowing public comments on Monday night, angering members of a neighborhood advocacy group who had been waiting for their turn to speak.
After voting on an agenda filled with liquor license applications, a Department of Transportation "slow zone" and a pair of community art projects, CB9 chairman Dwayne Nicholson asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting at SUNY Downstate Medical Center just after 9 p.m., which was quickly seconded and approved.
As the board packed up to leave, about a dozen members of Movement to Protect the People, a group formed this year to protest the process of rezoning parts of Crown Heights, began to demand the board stay put for the public comment portion of the meeting.
According to CB9’s bylaws, “at each meeting, the Board shall set aside time to hear from the public.”
“Wait a minute! Wait a minute! What happened to the open meeting session?” yelled MTOPP leader Alicia Boyd. “That’s the law!”
The board did not respond to MTOPP, leaving through a side door in the auditorium as the members of MTOPP demanded time to talk.
“Shame on you!” said one MTOPP member to the board as they walked out.
On Tuesday, Nicholson told DNAinfo he chose to end the meeting because it had run late — the board had only booked the room from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., he said.
“We were twenty minutes over. I didn’t expect to have quite as many votes as that, but we did,” Nicholson said.
A spokesman for SUNY Downstate confirmed that CB9 had booked the room for two hours, but said the medical center was flexible with timing.
"The room was booked from seven to nine, but we allowed them extra time to complete their meeting," Ronald Najman of SUNY wrote in an email Wednesday.
The meeting was rescheduled from last week, when Nicholson moved to cancel an in-process meeting after MTOPP was shut out of the standing-room-only meeting at Medgar Evers College and responded by protesting in the halls.
Since CB9’s full board meeting in September, MTOPP has demanded the board rescind a resolution sent to the Department of City Planning earlier this year to begin studying rezoning in the neighborhood. The group has said the document was not written with consensus from the neighborhood, staging several protests, including one outside of the board’s offices, to challenge the rezoning process.