Civil rights group asked officials to rescind decision

By Jason Arndt

Editor

The City of Burlington Common Council held firm to its decision related to an extension granted to a local business despite pressure from a Wisconsin-based civil rights organization following a closed session Tuesday.

The Wisconsin organization, known as Disability Justice, called on the city to rescind action taken last September allowing resale store 2 Fancie Gals up to five years to install an ADA accessible restroom.

Dorothy Dean, CEO and founder of the organization, accused the city of ignoring federal law when it passed the matter.

Dean, who made a brief presentation on Tuesday, outlined the history behind civil rights laws and believes the city overstepped its legal boundaries when it decided to pass the motion in September 2018.

“No body, elected or otherwise, has the authority to grant anyone or any business on exemption from civil rights,” she told the Common Council. “The City of Burlington illegally slammed the door on every person with a mobility problem, whether temporary or permanent.”

City Attorney John Bjelejac, however, said on Tuesday the city acted within the law and cited state Administrative Code.

“Very briefly in the closed session, I indicated to the Common Council that the action that was taken originally is totally within the law,” he said.

Additionally, Bjelejac said, state Administrative Code offers a provision allowing small business owners an exemption to federal law, if certain conditions are met.

Since owners Cindy and Aubrey McGaughy bought the two-story structure, they have made some handicapped accessible upgrades, like installing a ramp for wheelchair access.

“When we built the ramp and redid the porch, we satisfied about 180 percent of ADA compliance, so we did go above and beyond,” Aubrey McGaughy said last year, noting the minimum requirement is 20 percent.

The McGaughys’ efforts, according to Bjelejac, shows they are acting in good faith.

“(State code) provides a provision allowing exemptions for small businesses, if certain conditions are met, and the Common Council believes those conditions were met.”

To read the entire story see the May 9 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.

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