NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – For City Council President John Anderson, tonight’s meeting will be different than any he’s experienced during his time serving the city.

The five members of the council – Anderson, Suzanne Sicora Ludwig, Rebecca Escobar, Glenn Fleming and Kevin Egan - will be sitting in their usual seats in the Council Chambers.

With the exception of a few other key personnel – city attorney TK Shamy, for example – City Hall will be empty.

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Because of the social distancing measures enacted by Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday that limit gatherings to 50 or fewer people in hopes of curbing the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, the council meeting will employ call-in conferencing to allow the public to participate.

“This is definitely a first,” Anderson said. “We obviously checked it out with the law department to make sure it is legal. They checked it out and said it would be OK as long as they (the public) had input. They’ve been trying to get out the number to call in if you want to be part of it. I guess these are extraordinary times.

“This was one of the options at the beginning. It wasn’t my first choice. It’s really the only choice we have now. It’s not like we’re an advisory board kind of deal. We have to get something done kind of deal.”

The public can participate via telephone by dialing in and using an access code without entering New Brunswick City Hall.

People wishing to participate can call 408-418-9388 and enter access code 718-168-847. Or they can dial 224-501-3412 and entering access code 136-754-893.

Call-in participants will be able to hear all remarks made during the City Council meeting.

During the  public comment portions of the meeting, members of the public will be able to participate and contribute, much like a standard conference call. All standard rules and procedures pertaining to City Council Meetings will apply.

City Staff will be available by phone to offer technical support by calling 732-745-5007. The telephonic conferencing system will be activated at 6:25 p.m. today.

It is shaping up to be a busy meeting for the council, too. There are many notable items on the agenda. There’s a second reading on an ordinance to adopt the Jersey-Sandford Redevelopment Plan. There’s an ordinance that was deemed to have a first reading “to provide for the submission to the voters” the question of a change in the city’s charter to provide for a council consisting of seven members.

And, there’s an ordinance for discussion on first reading concerning the adoption o the Healthcare and Research Pavilion Development Plan.

“We have the opportunity for people to call in and they can still say whatever they want to say after the second reading of an ordinance or after the resolutions or public comments,” Anderson said. “Those three areas will still be open for the public. We’ll take their names and they can have up to five minutes and we’ll go from there.”

The agenda review session starts at 6:30 p.m. with the meeting to follow.