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Formal public participation

Formal civic participation refers to all opportunities for participation that are based on laws, regulations and other legal provisions.

Supplementing Sections 16 and 17 of the Thuringian Local Government Code (ThürKO), the Thuringian Law on the Procedure for Residents' Applications, Citizens' Petitions and Citizens' Decisions (ThürEBBG) came into force in October 2016.

Residents' application

In matters relating to their own sphere of action, residents who have been

  • have been resident in Jena for at least three months and
  • have reached the age of 14

have the right to submit resident applications. If at least 300 votes are collected in Jena, the application can be submitted to the city council, which examines it for admissibility. If all requirements are fulfilled, the city council has to discuss and decide on the requested matter within two months after receipt.

Citizens' petition / referendum

Citizens can apply for a citizens' petition in matters within their own sphere of influence. This must be submitted in writing to the city, which checks the admissibility within four weeks.

If the citizens' petition is successful, the citizens' referendum must be held within three months by secret ballot. The voting question must be formulated by the petitioner in such a way that it can be clearly answered with "yes" or "no". The city council can submit an alternative proposal on the same topic to the citizens for voting within the framework of the citizens' referendum.

In Jena, a citizens' referendum is considered to be passed if at least 10% of those eligible to vote cast a valid vote. The referendum has the effect of a city council resolution.

Public participation in urban land use planning is regulated in the Building Code.

Pursuant to § 3 (1) BauGB, the public is to be informed publicly as early as possible about the general objectives and purposes of the planning, substantially differing solutions which may be considered for the redesign or development of an area, and the likely effects of the planning. In doing so, it must be given the opportunity to comment and discuss the matter. Children and young people are also part of the public. The comments should be taken into account in the preparation of the draft development plan.

Pursuant to § 3 (2) BauGB, the drafts of the urban land-use plans, together with the explanatory memorandum and the environmental statements which, in the opinion of the municipality, are essential and already available, are to be put on public display for a period of one month, but at least for a period of 30 days, or, if there is an important reason, for an appropriate longer period. The place and duration of the public display as well as information on which types of environmental information are available shall be announced in accordance with local custom at least one week in advance; in doing so, it shall be pointed out that comments may be submitted during the display period and that comments not submitted in due time may not be taken into account in the adoption of a resolution on the urban land-use plan. The comments submitted in due time shall be examined and the result of the examination shall be communicated.

In addition to the Building Code, there are further regulations on formal public participation. For example, Section 10 of the Spatial Planning Act regulates the deadlines and requirement for the interpretation of spatial plans. Formal participation is also obligatory in environmental impact assessments, planning approval procedures and the approval of large installations. However, these cases are rather rare in Jena.

The participation of children and juveniles is also regulated by law. According to section 8 of Book VIII of the Social Code, children and juveniles are to be involved in all public youth welfare decisions affecting them in accordance with their stage of development.