Selectmen again postpone hearing regarding ‘unruly’ dogs
By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury Animal Control Officer Leona M. Pease had brought before the selectmen the case of complaints from neighbors of Rolland Demers, of 31 Westmont Rd., about unleashed dogs “Saydee” and “Pesky” roaming the neighborhood and allegedly causing problems for other property owners. This hearing was to dispose of the case through action of the selectmen.
As soon as Vice Chair Henry J. Fitzgerald brought the hearing to order, several audience members jumped to their feet to demand that the hearing be again postponed because an interpreter was not present. Demers is deaf and requires an interpreter fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). As such, asserted several people accompanying him, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits any public business be conducted without a trained interpreter. To do so, they said, would violate the ADA and would be met immediately with a lawsuit against Shrewsbury.
Fitzgerald replied that the interpreter the town had paid for had canceled at the last minute but the hearing would proceed, as this was the second time that lack of an interpreter had interrupted the hearing. Fitzgerald then asked the board what they would prefer to do.
Selectmen Chair Maurice M. DePalo noted that Demers is not the owner of the property, to which Demers’ supporters replied that the he does live at that address several nights a week and is the owner of the dogs.
Selectman John I. Lebeaux noted that the hearing was already under way and all parties were present, so the hearing should proceed. Selectman James F. Kane agreed, saying the interpreter issue was just a device to again delay the hearing and that it is not the town’s responsibility to provide an interpreter.
There were also several attendees who were there to support town action against Demers, but they had no chance to speak and left the meeting without making any statements.
After several minutes of discussion by the board, the board agreed to again postpone the hearing, this time to Tuesday, June 25, at 7:30 p.m.
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