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Fight Over Awning Goes Federal

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(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

Mike Pintek
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PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – NewsRadio 1020 KDKA’s Mike Pintek talks with Jaime Snyder, a Squirrel Hill mother, who on Thursday sued her neighborhood association in federal court for preventing her family from constructing a retractable awning on their home.

Mrs. Snyder and her husband, Dan Snyder, have an 18-month-old son with glaucoma.  The couple says that an awning would help protect their child from the sun, which is painful to him.

“He was born with a condition called congenital glaucoma in his right eye which makes him extraordinarily light-sensitive,” Snyder said. “And so we requested to the homeowners association – we asked them if we could put a retractable awning on our second-floor balcony and they came back and denied us our request and we even provided medical notes from doctors saying why it’s necessary and they still went ahead and denied us.”

“He’s absolutely disabled and according to the Fair Housing Act, we are permitted to make reasonable modifications to our house for him to enjoy his entire dwelling,” Snyder said.

Ms. Snyder and her attorney, Beverly Block, explain to Mike why they think the homeowner’s association should be compelled to grant permission for an awning by the guidelines of the Fair Housing Act.

“Their position is they don’t want any sort of modifications that go against what they see in their mind as the aesthetic of the neighborhood and so they felt sort of visually offended by the idea of an awning,” Block said of the homeowners association.

“To put a finer point on the law, the issue is when you have a disabled resident, you really have to apply a different test than, ‘Okay, but I don’t like the way it looks aesthetically.’

“You need to look at it sort of with much more sensitivity and detail and say, ‘Okay, is this a reasonable modification and should I really make this accommodation because it’s a reasonable request?’” Block added.

“The fact that there was nothing on the books prohibiting the awning, coupled with the fact that this is a disabled child and not your run-of-the-mill resident, it’s really baffling that the modification was not allowed.”

Listen to Mike Pintek every weekday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA!

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