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(1) The presiding officer in the conduct of the hearing shall:

(a) Commence the hearing by announcing the nature and purpose of the hearing and summarizing the rules for its conduct.

(b) Call for statements of conflicts of interest, ex parte contacts, and biases, abstentions under EC 9.7065(3), or challenges to impartiality submitted pursuant to EC 9.7065(5).

1. Any member of the hearings body who has been subject to significant ex parte contacts regarding the matter shall place on the record the substance of the communication. If the contact has not impaired the member’s impartiality, the member shall so state and may then participate in the hearing and decision. If the member believes that his or her impartiality has been affected by the contacts, the member shall not participate in the hearing and decision. If the member is uncertain or wishes to avoid the appearance of partiality, he or she shall seek the body’s advice and announce a decision regarding participation in the hearing and decision, and give the reasons for the action. If the member making the disclosure of ex parte contacts decides to participate in the hearing, the presiding officer shall announce that any person, during his or her testimony, has the right to rebut the substance of the communication. Communication between city staff and the hearings body shall not be considered an ex parte contact.

2. Any member of the hearings body who has a potential conflict of interest in the matter shall disclose the nature of the potential conflict, on the record. Following disclosure, the member may proceed in the same manner as described in subparagraph 1. of this subsection.

3. Any member of the hearings body who has an actual conflict of interest in the matter shall disclose the nature of the actual conflict, on the record. Following disclosure of the reason for abstention, the member shall leave the table during hearing, deliberation, discussion, and voting on the matter.

4. Any member considering abstention for reasons other than those described above shall state the reasons for the abstention, seek the advice of the body, and announce a decision and the reasons therefor.

(c) Receive staff notes and reports of site views.

(d) Call for testimony in the following order:

1. The proponent/applicant or its representative.

2. Neutral parties.

3. Opponents.

4. City staff presentation and recommendations.

5. Proponent/applicant rebuttal.

(e) Announce whether:

1. The record is closed;

2. The record will be held open; or

3. The hearing will be continued.

(2) Coordination of Testimony. To the degree necessary for an orderly process within available time, the presiding officer may consolidate submissions by participants or establish reasonable time limits for presentation of testimony. One or more spokespersons for any group may be designated by the presiding officer.

(3) Questioning of Witnesses. The questioning of witnesses is a matter solely within the discretion of the hearings body acting through the presiding officer. The presiding officer, as he or she deems it necessary or desirable, may permit the questioning of witnesses by members of the hearings body, staff and other interested persons at the conclusion of the witness’s presentation. No questioning of witnesses shall be permitted after the proponent /applicant rebuttal, except the questioning of the proponent /applicant as to matters contained in rebuttal testimony.

(4) Notwithstanding any other rule, an abstaining or disqualified member shall constitute part of a quorum and may represent the member’s interest at a hearing, provided the member joins the audience, makes full disclosure of the member’s status and position when addressing the body and abstains from discussion and from voting on the matter as a member of the body.

(5) Disqualification for reasons set forth in EC 9.7065(2) may be ordered by a majority of the members of the hearings body present at the hearing. The member who is the subject of the motion for disqualification may not vote on the motion.

(6) If all members of the body abstain or are disqualified and consequently cannot reach a decision while so abstaining or disqualified, all members present, after stating their reasons for abstention or disqualification, shall by so doing be requalified and proceed to resolve the issues, unless such participation violates state or federal law or the city charter.

(7) A member absent during the presentation of any evidence in a hearing may not participate in the deliberations or final decision regarding the matter of the hearing unless the member has reviewed the evidence received.

(Section 9.7075, see chart at front of Chapter 9 for legislative history from 2/26/01 through 6/1/02; and amended by Ordinance No. 20286, enacted March 10, 2003, effective April 9, 2003.)