Town to Rood: Prove You’re Disabled

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The legal battle between the Town of Fort Myers Beach and Estero Boulevard homeowner Eddie Rood rages on. The latest court filing comes from the town in response to U.S District Court Judge Sheri Chappel’s decision not to dismiss Rood’s ADA claim against the town.

For 5 years Rood has been fighting with the town to construct a walkover from his house to the beach behind his home on Estero Boulevard. Rood and his neighbor Kurt Kroemer say, over time the beach landscape behind their homes has changed due to the weather and a growing critical wildlife area. They say they’ve lost the access to the beach they once had when they purchased their homes.

After receiving the permits from the state, the remaining obstacle was a special exception from the town. The town council refuses to grant the special exception which has resulted in a legal battle. Rood alleges the Town discriminated against him by failing to provide him with a reasonable accommodation.

In it’s new filing the town claims Rood doesn’t even own the land that he’s looking to build the dune walkover on. Rood says he not only owns the land behind his home to the high tide line, he can also show that he has title to the critical wildlife area behind his home. Rood has not shown any documents that he has has title to that land as of yet.

The town also states that Rood requested relief regarding the proposed dune walkover fundamentally alters the town’s zoning program. The town is also demanding Rood prove that he’s disabled, that he was the victim of disability discrimination by the town and claims he’s suffered no economic damages whatsoever as a result of not being able to reach the beach from his back door.

The town says Rood is not disabled or regarded as disabled as defined under the ADA and his request for an alleged accommodation constitutes a personal preference rather than a reasonable accommodation. The town says the dune walkover is not necessary, it’s a “better” opportunity to use and enjoy his property.

The town is demanding a jury trial on this matter.

Rood sent us this respnse to the town filing: “The Town’s reply to the judges denial of the Motion to Dismiss is just a continuation of the same failed rhetoric and baseless claims they have used in past litigation without success.

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