Developers’ attorney promises second side to story
At least one group of developers say they have always been more than willing to address accessibility issues with anyone interested in purchasing one of their condominiums.
Before the controversy over the Fair Housing Act was raised, they were willing to make modifications for access at no charge.
“As is often the case, as this litigation develops, you will see that there are two sides to this story,” attorney Michael Berry said. Berry, of Jefferson City, Mo., represents the developers of Cedar Heights, Loch Haven, Miramar, and Clearwater condominiums.
“I’m a little surprised by the attorney general’s press release,” Berry said late Wednesday afternoon. “I learned that the attorney general was planning to file this lawsuit because his office sent my clients a notice that his assistants were going to seek a temporary restraining order in the Circuit Court of Camden County today.
“After we met and they conferred with one of the architects working for Miramar Condominiums, the assistants to the attorney general indicated that they didn’t want to have that injunction hearing; they seemed satisfied with how we were addressing their concerns.”
Berry went on to say the action by Jay Nixon is all about the press release.
He says while he was meeting in good faith with the assistants to the attorney general Monday, somebody from his public relations department came in, sat right down, and joined the discussions.
“The fact that the attorney general realized it was not necessary to get a temporary restraining order against me or the other companies doesn’t change my commitment to improving access at any residential development where I have any involvement,” developer Bill Tillman said.
“It is just good business; better access means more potential homebuyers,” he said. “People planning their retirement homes are a big part of the customer base for condominiums at the Lake of the Ozarks. It wouldn’t make any sense to intentionally build them to be difficult for anybody to live in, and I’ve never approved plans or construction with that in mind.”
Like most builders, Tillman’s firm relies upon design professionals to guide them.
“My companies have hired professional architects and engineers -- all of whom do regular code reviews as a part of their contracts -- and my companies have hired qualified tradesmen to build the projects to those plans. The local code enforcement officials passed the projects in all respects.”
Tillman went on to say these projects were regularly inspected and approved by local code enforcement officials. “I had every reason for believing they met or exceeded all federal, state and local laws and ordinances.”
Even more importantly, Tillman said, he had not had any owners or prospects complain. In fact, people with disabilities live in these projects and enjoy all they have to offer.
“I am welcoming the opportunity to prove to the court and to the public what a commendable job my clients have done in complying with all applicable codes,” Berry said. “I wish now we would not have agreed with the attorney general to bypass the temporary restraining order hearing, which was scheduled for this afternoon until the attorney general cancelled it.”
Lake Sun Leader