Justice Settles Housing Discrimination Suit With Six Architectural
And Building Firms
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 22, 2004
WASHINGTON, DC--The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday announced an agreement that, once approved by federal court, will settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed against six companies over the design and construction of housing complexes in Delaware and Maryland.
The agreement addresses accessibility problems at Rockwood Apartments in Bear, Delaware; Bethany Bay Resort Community in Sussex County, Delaware; and West Creek Village in Elkton, Maryland. It affects 289 ground floor apartments at Rockwood and West Creek -- each of which was built with a step at the entrance -- along with 133 condominium units at Bethany Bay.
The DOJ said in a statement that interior doorways were also too narrow for wheelchairs, and the complexes lacked curb cuts from the streets to the sidewalks.
The government's complaint alleged that Pettinaro Construction Company, Inc.; Architecture Plus, P.A.; Landmark Engineering, Inc.; Hillcrest Associates, Inc.; Howard L. Robertson, Inc.; and Land Tech, L.L.C. violated the 1968 Fair Housing Act by designing and constructing the complexes in a manner that left them inaccessible to people with disabilities. All three complexes are still under construction.
Under the agreement, apartment units and the complexes' common areas will be made accessible.
Additionally, $60,000 will be paid in damage awards to four individuals and an organization injured by the violations; a $400,000 fund will be established to compensate any other individuals injured by the inaccessible housing; and up to $350,000 will be provided for accessibility improvements for condominiums owners at Bethany Bay who desire them. Enhanced accessibility features, such as roll-in showers for persons who use wheelchairs, will also be available at all three complexes upon request.
"Accessibility Requirements for Buildings" (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)