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Settlement Agreement Under The Americans With Disabilities Act Of 1990 Between The United States Of America And New Oxford Borough Council, Pennsylvania

DJ #204-63-69
I. Background

1. This matter was initiated by a complaint filed with the United States Department of Justice (the Department), against the New Oxford Borough Council, Pennsylvania, (the Council). The complaint was investigated by the Department under the authority granted by section 308 (b) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12131-12134. The complaint alleges that the Council violated title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and the Department's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35. The ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the services, programs, and activities of State or local governments.

The complaint alleges that public meetings conducted by the Council are inaccessible to individuals with mobility impairments. In particular, the complaint alleges that the second floor meeting room where the Council's meetings are held, is not accessible to individuals with disabilities who cannot climb stairs. In addition, the public library located in the basement of the same building is also not accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs because of stairs and broken sidewalks leading to the building entrance.

2. The Council denies it acted unlawfully with respect to the complainant's allegations. On at least one occasion the Council has provided access to its meeting by temporally relocating to the lobby to hear a request for a building variance from one of its disabled citizens. In addition the Council is accepting bids to modify the Borough Building to relocate the Council Meeting room and the Public Library to the accessible first floor.

3. The parties have agreed to settle this matter without resolving the factual and legal dispute regarding the lawfulness of the Council's actions. The Department of Justice is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate fully the allegations of the complainant in this matter and to determine if the Council is in compliance with title II of the ADA and the Justice Department's implementing regulation, issue findings, and, where appropriate, negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements.

Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. § 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department of Justice fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing a civil suit in this matter.

4. The parties to this Settlement Agreement (Agreement) are the United States of America and the New Oxford Borough Council, Pennsylvania.

5. This Agreement does not constitute an admission of liability on the part of the Council. The parties enter into this Agreement in order to avoid litigation and hereby agree as follows:

II. Title II Coverage

6. Title II of the ADA and its implementing regulation prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. 42 U.S.C. § 12131 ; 28 C.F.R. § 35.101.

7. The ADA applies to the New Oxford Borough Council because it is a public entity as defined in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title II. 28 C.F.R. § 35.104.

III. Actions to be Taken by New Oxford Borough Council

8. The Council agrees to take the following actions within 30 days of the date of this Agreement:

a. The Council shall develop and post in a prominent location of its accessible public areas a written policy statement indicating procedures available for persons with disabilities to a obtain reasonable modifications to Borough policies, practices, and procedures. This policy statement shall include the telephone number and contact information of the individual designated too handle such request.

b. The Council shall adopt and publish a procedure providing for relocation of all public meetings to an accessible location with reasonable notification (not more than one week notice). The policy shall provide that the Council will make reasonable efforts to relocate meetings in the event that less than one week's notice is given.

c. The Council will repair or replace the sidewalk as part of an accessible route from the parking lot (accessible parking) to the closest accessible entrance to the building.

D. The Council will temporarily set aside a room on the accessible first floor to serve as an addition to the Public Library until the Library is moved from the basement. From this location individuals with disabilities will be able to access the same services as are available to patrons in the lower library.

IV. Implementation

9. In consideration of the New Oxford Borough Council's performance of its obligations under this agreement, the Department agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation of complaint number 204-63-69 and to refrain from filing a civil suit arising from its investigation of complaint number 204-63-69.

9. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that this Agreement or any provision thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action in the Federal District Court for Pennsylvania, or any other appropriate Federal district court. The Department of Justice may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department of Justice believes that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it may institute civil action seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement in an appropriate Federal court.

10. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this Agreement or any information contained herein may be made available to any person. The Department shall provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.

11. This Agreement shall become effective as of the date of the last signature below.

12. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement shall be enforceable. This Agreement is limited to the facts as set forth in paragraphs 1 through 3, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal, State or local law.

For the United States:

Bill Lann Lee

Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

By:_____________________________ Date: _________________

John L. Wodatch, Chief

Allison Nichol, Deputy Chief

Ron Whisonant, Investigator

Disability Rights Section

Civil Rights Division

U.S. Department of Justice

P.O. Box 66738

Washington, D.C. 20035-6738

(202) 307-0795

Borough of New Oxford, Pennsylvania:

By: ____________________________ Date: ______________

Joseph R. Robinson,

Borough Council President

Attest:_________________________ Date: ______________

Tania K. Kepner,

Borough Secretary

Updated August 6, 2015