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Kentucky family's playhouse becomes an ADA battle

FRANKFORT — A Lexington mother fighting a homeowners association over an outdoor playhouse used in therapy for her 3-year-old son took her battle to the state legislature on Thursday.

Tiffiney Veloudis, who wants to keep the playhouse rather than be forced to remove it, joined state Reps. Richard Henderson, D-Jeffersonville, and Keith Hall, D-Phelps, at a news conference to publicize a bill pending before the General Assembly.

"You don't want to see anyone picking on your child, and I think the homeowner association is picking on my child," said Veloudis, whose son, Cooper, has cerebral palsy.

The family's fight, which has led to a lawsuit, has garnered national attention and generated debate about whether private homeowners associations should have to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Cooper's parents say the 100-square-foot, $5,000 playhouse they installed in their side yard is instrumental in his physical therapy.

But Andover Forest Home owners Association has ordered the Veloudis family to remove the playhouse because it violates deed restrictions all property owners sign when they buy in Andover Forest.

Veloudis said she and her husband do not think the playhouse is any different than the tree houses and swing sets already in their neighborhood.

Pat Gesualdo, president and chief executive officer of the non-profit organization D.A.D. — Drums and Disabilities — a national advocacy group based in New Jersey that helps people with disabilities, said Thursday that his organization filed a complaint two days ago with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., against the homeowners association, alleging violation of Cooper Veloudis' civil rights.

Gesualdo said he expects that a lawsuit alleging a fair-housing violation will be filed on the child's behalf against board members of the home owners association.

Henderson and Hall said their legislation, House Bill 160, seeks to do away with deed restrictions that limit structures deemed medically necessary for children 12 and younger.

"I want to make sure that deed restrictions, like the one governing Cooper Veloudis' house, do not violate the Americans With Disabilities Act or civil rights, which I think is happening in this case," Henderson said.Gesualdo, who joined the lawmakers and Tiffiney Veloudis at the news conference, said he was working on the Kentucky legislation and hoped to use it as model for other states.

Nathan Billings, general counsel for the homeowners association, was not immediately available for comment on the legislation.

To read more, visit www.kentucky.com.

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