Residents who feel like booing at a town board meetings will have to button their lips in the future after town officials on Tuesday banned such outbursts at Town Hall.
The board voted to approve new legislation that prohibits any demonstration that lawmakers would consider disruptive to meetings, specifically booing, but agreed clapping would still be permitted.
The first draft of the legislation banned both booing and clapping.
But, after Dominque Mendez, president of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, protested that the proposed law "goes far to restrict what's free expression and free speech," the board agreed to ban only booing, not clapping.
Hand clapping, Mendez said, has been heard at town board meetings during instances including the preservation of the North Fork Preserve. "People clapped and no one minded," she said.
"Have you ever seen anyone clap and delay a meeting?" Mendez asked. "It's very brief."
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said much of the legislation was adopted from model rules from other towns and was not written specifically for Riverhead, though after hearing concerns about the law he added he would favor letting hand clapping stand.
But booing would still be banned.
"We don't want any booing that's disruptive," he said.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she has seen both booing and clapping. "It doesn't provide for an orderly meeting. That's what I think the purpose is, of adopting rules of order."
After the unanimous vote, there was applause in the audience.