The main purpose of a public hearing is to obtain public testimony, evidence or comments. There are two types of public hearings: legislative and quasi-judicial.
The purpose of a legislative public hearing is to obtain public input on legislative decisions on matters of policy, setting the tax rate, approving the budget, amending the comprehensive land use plan or adopting general ordinances. A legislative public hearing is generally less formal than a quasi-judicial hearing since it is a policy making proceeding and it does not involve the legal rights of property owners but rather affects a wider range of citizens.
A quasi-judicial public hearing is much like a courtroom proceeding, in that testimony and evidence is presented, as well as having expert witnesses testify and allowing cross-examination of those witnesses. These hearings involve land use matters including requests for zoning's, site plan approvals, variances and conditional uses. The decisions made at the hearing are based upon and supported by the testimony and evidence presented.