I’ve been a member of the St. Charles County Council for 10 years. The County Council is the legislative body of County Government. While each Council member has different views and perspectives, we all agree that we’re here to make St. Charles County an even better place to live. This month, I thought it would be helpful to explain, for those who don’t know, how the Council works and how you can stay in touch and be involved.
The Council consists of seven members, one member elected by the voters in each of the seven council districts. Council members are elected by voters of St. Charles County for a four-year term, with terms of office beginning in January. The Chair and Vice-Chair are elected each January by the members of the Council. Detailed information about the powers, duties, and procedures of the County Council is located in the Legislative section of the County Charter.
Our regular meetings are where our work takes place. They are generally held at 7 p.m. on the second and last Monday of each month, except on holidays, in the Executive Office Building at 100 North Third Street in downtown St. Charles. Meetings follow an agenda, which includes an invocation, Pledge of Allegiance, roll call, public presentations, and often there is the introduction of, and public comments on, Conditional Use Permit bills. Within each zoning district, the County’s Unified Development Ordinance specifies a range of land uses that zoning standards allow, as well as a list of more restrictive conditional uses. The more restrictive uses must be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission first, and then by the County Council, on a case-by-case basis for Conditional Use Permits. Conditional Use Permit bills that are introduced at one meeting will be up for final passage at the next meeting.
Next, there may be public hearings with public comments on the agenda for items such as traffic regulations, plans for citizen input, and, on an annual basis, the County budget. Then, there is time for other public comments. To speak, visitors must fill out an information card with the Council staff before the start of the meeting. Each speaker is allowed three minutes. A maximum of six speakers can talk about any given topic or agenda item, alternatingthree in favor and three opposed. The Council cannot discuss topics or agenda items with speakers or have open discussion on a subject during the public comment part of the agenda; however, Council members and staff can, and do, follow up with the speakers on topics they address after the meeting or at a later date.
After public comment is a report from the County Executive, approval of purchases and nominations/appointments, and then bills are introduced and passed. Bills that are introduced at one meeting are up for final passage at the next unless the bill is tabled for discussion at a later time. This process gives members time to review the bill and ask necessary questions before voting.
Want to stay in touch with the County Council and what we’re doing? Here’s how:
Of course, we want to hear from you, our constituents, about issues and concerns. You can contact any one of us by email at any time – visit the Council Members webpage for our email addresses. If you don’t know which County Council district you live in or who your County Council member is, visit the County GIS Mapping Service. Zoom in to where you live or enter your address in the upper right corner of the map. You also can contact the County Council office at 636-949-7530 or by email.
Thank you for reading, and I hope we hear from you soon!