WEST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey couple that has been fighting for wheelchair ramps for their disabled son has won a victory.
They’ve been fighting their township’s board for their handicapped son to gain proper access to their home.
We first told you about Stephanie Roman and her son Ethan back in May. She bought her West Orange home two years ago and retrofit it to suit her wheelchair bound son’s needs.
Three months ago they sent an application to the township’s zoning board of adjustment to build two ramps: one from the front door and another from the rear, wrapping around the home to the street. So Ethan, their 15-year-old son with cerebral palsy, can get to the school, bus or escape an emergency.
It finally got approved Thursday night.
The board previously said the ramps would encroach on the required front and side setbacks.
“I am not happy with how we were treated,” said Roman. “We were treated unfairly.”
Her neighbors started catching on after the application was rejected in a May meeting. So they came Thursday night making signs, wearing t-shirts and declaring statements.
“Lets just do the right thing tonight and end it because otherwise, the town is going the wrong way,” said one supporter.
“If this would have happened to my family, I would have been livid,” said a community member at the meeting.
“Denying Ethan access to his home needs to end,” said another resident.
Not everyone supports the plan. The couple next door hired a lawyer to ensure the ramp isn’t built on their property and doesn’t impact their plants. Something Roman’s lawyer, Liz Durnkin, says is outrageous.
She doesn’t know if this plant issue was the reason the family had to fight for three months for approval, but says every design they brought to the board was good enough and it never should have taken this long.
“You did hear testimony tonight that the first design was acceptable as well,” said Durkin. “At the end of the day, you are just talking about a wooden handicap ramp.”
She believes it was the community rallying together that helped change the board’s opinions and three hours later unanimously voted to allow the ramp to be built.
The next door neighbors declined our offer to go on camera and their lawyer didn’t show up to Thursday night’s meeting.
Roman says she will begin to build her ramp as soon as they can.