After entering executive session to discuss a resolution to reappointment of Planning Board member Dean Shea to a new seven-year term, the Lansing Town Council ultimately chose to take no action on the item at its meeting on Dec. 18.
Board alternates Thomas Butler’s and Dale Baker’s terms were also up for renewal, but the Town Council chose to take no action on their terms as well. Per New York state law, Shea, Butler and Baker will continue to hold their respective positions until a decision is made by the Town Council.
Shea’s term has been the subject of high scrutiny by the public over the past few weeks. On Nov. 25, several members of the public expressed their displeasure with Shea’s behavior actions during a situation that took place during a meeting back in the end of March, asking the Planning Board to not recommend the Town Council renew Shea’s term.
During the meeting back in March, Trish Van Emery was speaking during the public hearing portion of the meeting when her husband Richard’s cell phone began to ring. Richard, who lives with a severe hearing impairment and wears a hearing aid, was not aware that his phone was ringing. His phone continued to ring while Trish continued her conversation with the board, which began to irritate Shea. Shea then started yelling at Richard to turn off the phone, but Richard was not aware that his phone was ringing.
Someone else in attendance at the March meeting helped turn off Richard’s phone, but Trish said Shea continued to yell at Richard. According to Trish, even though the audience member continued to say that Richard could not hear his phone ringing, Shea responded by saying, “Well, we can hear.” After that, the audience member escorted Richard out of the room.
“This behavior and lack of sensitivity towards persons with disability by a public board in a public meeting is beyond intolerable,” Trish said back in November. “There was never any apology or acknowledgment to my husband by that member that night or since."
Shea offered an apology and his perspective on the situation later in that meeting on Nov. 25, specifically mentioning that he also suffers from a hearing disability. On Dec. 18, Shea offered some more comments during the privilege of the floor.
“At the last Planning Board meeting, several people spoke about my lack of an apology to Mr. Van Emery,” Shea said. “At the last meeting, I made an apology to Mr. Van Emery with regret for making a…response in an unreasonable tone. I apologized and clearly explained the motivation for my response. My apology was sincere.”
He said several members of the audience from the March meeting were disrespectful to the Planning Board in that they ignored the board’s instructions and made inappropriate comments. He said the board has not received an apology from those individuals for their behavior.
“After the hearing for the Osmica project, a member of the Emmons Road neighborhood group told a member of the board in this room that the applicant was a liar,” he said. “In a letter to the board, a member of the public declared any use of the Osmica property, other than farming, was a sin…At the last Planning Board meeting, some members of the public ascribed criminal motives to me. No apology has been issued to the board or myself for these appalling behaviors.”
Shea asked the Town Council to condemn “this culture that [he] did not bring to this room.”
“My motive for delaying my apology was my disgust at the behavior I have described here, and the sincere feeling that an apology is due to this board,” he said.
Councilman Joseph Wetmore said the council will continue to review the matter and make a decision sometime in either January or February.