Condo projects also sued this year in federal court

Lake Sun staff

Developers sued by the Missouri attorney general also have dates pending in federal court.

A federal lawsuit was filed in June by a housing group from St. Louis on behalf of people with disabilities.

The Metropolitan St. Louis Fair Housing Opportunity Council had made it clear it intended to hold condominium developers liable for what is perceived as violations of the Fair Housing Act earlier this year when they released a report that chastised developers for a lack of compliance with the minimum requirements for accessibility.

The federal suit named Cedar Heights, Miramar, Clearwater and Loch Haven. All are located in Camden County.

Defendants are listed as Jeffrey Tillman; William Tillman; Dan Foster; Johnson Contracting, LLC; Cedar Heights Construction, LLC; Clearwater Construction, LLC; Fostill Lakeside Builders, LLC; TNF Construction Development, LLC; Killian Smith Architect & Associates, PC; and H Design Group, LLC Architects.

The suit alleges the developments contain egregious violations of the FHA. A number of the buildings are designed as split-levels, in which not a single unit is accessible to a person with disabilities. The suit goes on to describe other alleged violations that are not in compliance with the FHA.

The suit seeks damages for the housing group, asks the court to force the developers to retrofit the projects and seeks a restraining order or injunction to halt any additional development by the defendants that does not meet the minimum requirements.

Jeff Tillman said the suit and the allegations contained in the document had just been brought to their attention. He had not yet seen the documents.

“We take these allegations seriously and after reviewing, we will file a formal statement,” Jeff Tillman said at the time the suit was filed.

The group also released the names of another 17 projects that have been turned over to Housing and Urban Development and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.

Those projects include Emerald Bay, Monarch Cove, Summer Hill, Reflections, Highland Shores, Old Kinderhook, Mimosa Beach, Lighthouse Pointe, Sportsman s Harbor, Vision Condominiums, Plaza Garden on the Lake/Royale Palms, Palisades, Bristol Bay, Cedar Green, Fountain View, Stoneledge and Mystic Bay.

The report cited a total of 40 condo projects in the lake area and rated each of the complexes on compliance issues that fall under the Fair Housing Act. The majority of the complexes did not fare well in the report.

Steps to docks and swimming pools, no elevators, and doorways too narrow to accommodate a wheelchair were violations of the most basic accessibility requirements were cited as frequent violations of the Fair Housing Act.

Under FHA requirements, there are seven minimum accessibility issues that need to be met, including entrance and exit access, door widths, entry levers/doorknobs and the placement of thermostats.

The site surveys were conducted over a two-month period last year and included only developments constructed since the FHA accessibility requirements were revised in 1991 to include multi-family developments with four or more attached structures.

The organization says lake area developers who have ignored the FHA requirements have discriminated against potential buyers, according to Mira Tanna, assistant director of the housing group.

Lake Sun Leader