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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 38879
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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We are a non profit organization that works with people with

Customer Question

We are a non profit organization that works with people with disabilities. One of our clients is a quadriplegic and was in a nursing home. In order to help him get home we had ramp built over an existing walkway and step so that our client could gain access to his home. We did not obtain a building permit because it was a just a wooden ramp over the existing walkway, but the borough sent notice requiring permits. We sent back the papers with the required fees and now they are denying our request and forcing us to apply for a variance (with a $400.00 fee and a site plan). It is my feeling that they are violating our client's right to a reasonable accommodation. We did not alter any structure and the ramp does not extend further into the yard than the walkway did. Without the ramp, our client has no means of gaining entrance to his home.
Cindy Clarke
The Tri-State Advocacy Project ***@******.***
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  socrateaser replied 12 months ago.

Hello,

Under federal regulations, a City is prohibited from utilizing criteria or methods of administration that have the effect of discriminating against individuals with disabilities, or applying eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out individuals with disabilities or any class of individuals with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying any service, program, or activity, unless such criteria can be shown to be necessary for the provision of the service, program, or activity being offered. 28 C.F.R. § 35.130(b)(3), (b)(8). Title II also requires that a public entity make reasonable modifications to its policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, unless the public entity can demonstrate that doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity. Id. § 35.130(b)(7).

Thus, the question here is whether a significant proportion of disabled persons would be effectively prohibited from obtaining a zoning variance, due to financial constrants, and if so, then would the reduction in the cost of a zoning variance application fundamentally alter the ability of the city to process variance permits?

You may have statistics on the assent and income levels of seriously disabled persons. If those statistics show that an $800 administrative fee would effectively prohibit a significant proportion of those persons to obtain a zoning variance for a reasonable accommodation to their property, then you have a case against the city, and you may want to consider complaining to the U.S. Department of Justice (or, hire a private lawyer to sue on your client's behalf).

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) -- otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

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Expert:  socrateaser replied 12 months ago.

Hello again,

I see that you have reviewed my answer, but that you have not provided a rating. Do you need any further clarification concerning my answer, or is everything satisfactory?

If you need further clarification, concerning this matter, please feel free to ask. If not, I would greatly appreciate a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) – otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

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