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Housing group sues Buckingham over apartment accessibility

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A not-for-profit fair housing group is suing Indianapolis-based Buckingham Cos., claiming the apartment developer has ignored government rules requiring accommodations for people with physical disabilities.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Fair Housing Alliance and two of its member groups, including the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, allege in a lawsuit filed Friday that four of Buckingham’s properties violate Fair Housing Act accessibility requirements.

The apartment complexes listed in the suit: Providence at Old Meridian in Carmel; The Reserve at Williams Glen in Zionsville; Champion Farms Apartments at Springhurst in Louisville; and the Apartments at Grand Prairie in Peoria, Ill.

"We have not had the opportunity to thoroughly review the complaint," Buckingham Tuesday said in a prepared statement. "Compliance with federal, state and local law has always been and remains a priority."

The suit claims Buckingham and its affiliated companies have built apartment complexes since 2001 with unfriendly features for people with disabilities, including access blocked by parked cars, insufficient floor space to accommodate wheelchairs, doors that are too narrow and thermostat units placed out of reach.

“These blatant violations, and many others, effectively communicate that people with disabilities are not welcome at [Buckingham] properties,” the suit claims.

At issue is a 1988 law that requires apartment buildings with more than four units built for occupancy after March 1991 to meet certain requirements. Ground-floor units and those served by elevators must have accessible routes into and out of apartments, doors wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, ample space to maneuver a wheelchair in bathrooms and kitchens, and light switches and thermostat controls within reach of a person in a wheelchair.

The National Fair Housing Alliance issued a news release Tuesday announcing its suit against Buckingham.

“It has been more than 20 years since the effective date of the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements, and builders are continuing to build apartments that effectively bar people with disabilities from the premises,” said Morgan Williams, the alliance’s director of enforcement and investigations, in the release. “It’s unfortunate to see the violations we do when developers now have clear and straightforward federal standards to follow to ensure that properties are accessible for everyone.”

The lawsuit is part of a nationwide crackdown on apartment developers who fail to follow federal guidelines for accessibility.

In October, S.C. Bodner Co., another Indianapolis-based apartment developer, settled a similar suit filed against it by the Fair Housing Alliance in August 2010.

And last month, the organization reached a settlement with HHHunt Corp., in which the Virginia-based firm agreed to renovate more than 1,200 units at nine complexes to make them accessible.

The alliance’s suit against Buckingham, filed in a U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, is asking the court to find the company in violation of the law, order it to stop renting units until it brings complexes into compliance, to survey each of Buckingham’s properties to assess compliance, and to award compensatory and punitive damages.

Buckingham also is developing CityWay, the $155 million apartment, retail, office and hotel project at South and Delaware streets in downtown Indianapolis.

The 100 units included in the first phase are fully occupied. Three more residential buildings with a total of 150 units are scheduled for completion in the spring of 2013.

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  1. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  2. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

  3. Low energy. Next!

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  5. OK, take notice. Those wondering just how corrupt the Indiana system is can see the picture in this post. Attorney Donald James did not criticize any judges, he merely, it would seem, caused some clients to file against him and then ignored his own defense. James thus disrespected the system via ignoring all and was also ordered to reimburse the commission $525.88 for the costs of prosecuting the first case against him. Yes, nearly $526 for all the costs, the state having proved it all. Ouch, right? Now consider whistleblower and constitutionalist and citizen journalist Paul Ogden who criticized a judge, defended himself in such a professional fashion as to have half the case against him thrown out by the ISC and was then handed a career ending $10,000 bill as "half the costs" of the state crucifying him. http://www.theindianalawyer.com/ogden-quitting-law-citing-high-disciplinary-fine/PARAMS/article/35323 THE TAKEAWAY MESSAGE for any who have ears to hear ... resist Star Chamber and pay with your career ... welcome to the Indiana system of (cough) justice.

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