, Derry, New Hampshire

January 17, 2013

Council: Texted comments are legal

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — Councilors took some heat recently from a resident who didn’t like the way they were communicating.

Aspen Road resident Dana Coons sent a letter to councilors, saying he did not like the way they ran a meeting Dec. 17 by allowing a member of the Planning Board to text comments to the chairman during the meeting.

Those texts came from Planning Board vice chairman Mary Wing-Soares. They were entered into the public record and minutes that night.

Coons said the texting was a public “interruption” of the meeting and was inappropriate because other residents showed up in person to voice concerns, but Soares was able to stay home and text.

“Others in town have preferential treatment,” Coons wrote. “You owe the citizens of Londonderry an apology.”

Council Chairman John Farrell said the texts may have been unusual at the time, but nothing was done illegally and all information was entered in as public comment and record.

He said with today’s technology, people are able to email or text their comments to each other. Letters and emails often are read as a public part of public meetings, he said.

“We do want people to participate,” Farrell said, “in any way shape or form. This council wants full transparency and we’ll take it however we can get it.”

Farrell said everything was done correctly and legally.

“But I apologize if I offended anybody, he said.