TAMPA (CBS Tampa) – A father of an autistic child is fighting his homeowner’s association after adding a gravel path to his front yard.
Michael Groves tells WTSP-TV his son Ben uses the path to walk from the front door to the sidewalk because he doesn’t like to step on the driveway.
“He would never go between the vehicles, he’s claustrophobic. This here is the safe pathway in his mind,” said Groves.
Groves added the gravel walkway because Ben had been trampling the grass, which earned the family a citation from the HOA of the Lakewood Ranch community where they live.
“I’m trying to protect him and still be within the rules,” he said.
After installing the gravel path 3 years ago, Groves was notified by Summerfield and Riverwalk Village HOA at Lakewood Ranch that only concrete or concrete paving stones were allowed.
Instead of replacing the gravel, Groves filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, saying the HOA was violating the Fair Housing Act by not accommodating his son’s disability.
“I’m here to stand up to HOAs. People with disabilities have a right to have modifications done,” explained Groves.
An attorney for the HOA told WTSP-TV they are now reviewing Groves’ situation.
Groves accused the HOA members of acting like bullies, “do the right thing, listen with your heart, use compassion, think of people with disabilities.”
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