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Local non profit is granted $70,000 settlement

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)- The City of Huntsville is paying 70 thousand dollars to settle a federal lawsuit involving a local non-profit organization. The lawsuit is being described as a civil, workable situation, and the resulting settlement as a win/win situation.

In May, 2013 the City of Huntsville noticed large vans parked outside the ability plus group home on Balwin Drive and cited them for zoning violations. Ability Plus is an organization which operates group homes for adults with disabilities. The city says the vans were , “Too big and bulky for neighborhood streets, you know neighborhood streets are made for somebody to park on on both sides, and then to go through, but it’s not made for the big commercial type the vans and vehicles,” says mayor Tommy Battle.

In July 2014, when the agency sued the city for discrimination against handicapped residents. On Thursday, the Huntsville City Council voted 4 to 1 to approve the 70 thousand dollar settlement.

“Through the lawsuit, we’ve ended up being able to provide commercial vehicles there that meet the guidelines of being in neighborhoods, but don’t overburden the neighborhood streets,” adds Battle.

The settlement money combined with grant money will be used to buy smaller replacement vehicles for all 6 ability plus group homes.

“I think it was probably a win-win for both sides. You know the group homes are a necessity, and something needed in the community to take care of people with special needs, and we’ve got to do that,” says Battle.

Mayor Battle says they’re unsure exactly when the new vehicles will be on the streets, but he doesn’t anticipate it

Under city zoning laws, trucks, buses, and commercial vehicles cannot be more than 9,000 pounds, the new vehicles will meet those guidelines.