A pair of disability-related disputes were recently settled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut.
In Ansonia, federal investigators accused the city there of discriminating against people with mental disabilities or addiction issues. In August 2010, Recovery Network of Programs (RNP), which runs methadone clinics, sought to place a clinic in Ansonia that would provide drug treatment and counseling services to its clients.
At that time, RNP was serving approximately 250 clients, predominately individuals with opiate addictions, in Ansonia and the surrounding Naugatuck Valley. RNP leased a location on Main Street in Ansonia, but it was in an area whose zoning expressly excluded clinics for the “insane, alcoholics and drug addicts.” And so city officials denied RNP’s building permit.
RNP then complained to federal officials that the decision was discriminatory.
According to a press release from U.S. Attorney David B. Fein, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, including mental disabilities and/or addiction issues, and requires municipalities and states to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices and procedures to afford individuals with disabilities equal treatment under the law.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Ansonia agreed to change its zoning regulations and — for the next three years — to provide copies of the settlement agreement to all aldermen, members of the Planning and Zoning Commission and management-level employees of the Zoning Department and the Building Department.
Lastly, the city agreed not to retaliate against RNP, which had initially complained to the U.S. Department of Justice about the city’s zoning regulation.
“The U.S. Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that all individuals receive equal treatment under the law,” Fein said in a statement. “We commend the City of Ansonia for dealing with this serious issue, which affects so many members of our community, and we hope that this agreement alerts other cities and towns about their responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David C. Nelsonand Lauren M. Nash, in coordination with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also recently settled an Americans with Disabilities Act dispute in the Plantsville section of Southington. Specifically, the Aqua Turf Club, a banquet facility that can accommodate up to 2,000 people at events ranging from business conferences to wedding receptions, got into hot water with federal officials because its bathrooms were inaccessible to those with mobility disabilities. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, according to a separate press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Under a civil settlement agreement between Aqua Turf and federal authorities, the banquet business agreed to make renovations, primarily to its restrooms, in each of its banquet halls to comply with the ADA. Specifically the agreement requires renovations to Kay’s Pier North, Kay’s Pier South, the Wagon Room and the Glass Room at the Aqua Turf Club.
The ADA requires places of public accommodation built prior to Jan. 26, 1993 to remove architectural barriers to access for the handicapped where such removal is readily achievable.
Though denying liability under the ADA as part of the settlement terms, Aqua Turf has already completed the required renovations to its restrooms in Kay’s Pier North and Kay’s Pier South. It is required to submit to the federal officials proposed plans for additional renovations by Aug. 1.
This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Perkins, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.•