Homeowners Association Forces Family to Remove Disabled Boy's "Therapy Home"
POSTED: Friday, December 2, 2011 - 10:54am
UPDATED: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - 12:44am
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY- A custom-made playhouse for a young boy with special needs has become the cause of a big debate in one Lexington, Kentucky neighborhood.
3-year-old Cooper Veloudis has cerebral palsy. Earlier this year his therapist suggested that a playhouse would help him be more active. The house was built in the backyard of the family's home for about $5,000. However, the Andover Forest Homeowners Association says Cooper's house must go, because they say the "structure", is prohibited, and each day it's in their yard Cooper's parents must pay $50.
"This house is all about Cooper, it is not about come over and play," said his mother, Tiffiney Veloudis. "It is about getting in there and having therapy and the therapy is fun. You accomplish so much more."
Veloudis said they didn't think the playhouse would be a problem, considering their neighbors have a swing set and they have a trampoline of their own in their backyard. To prove that point further, Cooper's father, George, took pictures of other "structures" built in the neighborhood, but were built without a threat of a "lien" against their property.
"This is obviously a special circumstance," said Veloudis. "There is nothing written in that code for a child with special needs."
Despite all of the support for Cooper, Ernie Stamper says the board will not back down. Stamper is one of seven people who represent the Andover Forest Subdivision. They contend the playhouse violates association rules, and they are fining the family every day the playhouse remains.
"They aren't allowed. Structures not attached to a house are not allowed," he said.
Stamper also the comparisons to swing sets don't apply, denying that they are "structures".
"It's a swing set," Stamper said.
He wouldn't elaborate, but did say the board wouldn't consider changing the rules to let Cooper keep his house.
"It's not something we have a reason to discuss. There are people who live here who expect us to abide by those covenants. It's why they bought their house," Stamper said.
The $50 a day fine kicked in Monday, and with a threat of a lien against the Veloudis' property, Tiffiney says they have no choice but to take it down.
"We have a small farm down the road. We're going to store it at until we can find a family that has a child that really needs it, and maybe it can help that child like it's helped Cooper."
The family plans to have it removed by Saturday.