HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Chick-fil-a on Whitesburg Drive is so popular during lunch time, employees have to set out cones - the drive-thru line wraps around the entire building. Great business is now causing a problem for those hoping to park in a handicap parking spot.
Karen Trevey's father-in-law is a 95 year old World War II Veteran. “My father in law doesn’t have many joys left in life, but he does like a lot of the food at Chick-fila, so we would take him there as a treat after medical appointments," says Trevey.
All of that changed when the location on Whitesberg began setting out cones for the drive-thru blocking off all of the restaurant's handicap spots. "We couldn’t park there, we couldn’t take him to the restaurant, we haven’t been able to since," she says.
After Karen contacted WHNT News 19, we checked out the drive-thru line ourselves, and it's easy to understand why the cones are there. The parking lot is narrow and the drive-thru is packed. We went through the line two separate days, and both times it took us more than ten minutes to get up to the window.
Technically, if you wanted in those handicap spaces, you would have to get into the drive-thru line, slowly move up in line towards the side of the building, and then park. But after you left the restaurant, you would either have to go through the drive-thru to get out or move the cones.
“While it’s probably not an easy fix, smart people might be able to find a way to have the flow, be compliant with the law, and provide some service for those people with disabilities," says Trevey.
We consulted with a local attorney who says there could be a legal argument that this is in violation with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Karen says he doesn't have an axe to grind with Chick-fil-a, but does want to see more access for other disabled individuals, like her father-in-law.
“Selfishly, I’d like to help my father-in-law, bring him a little joy. But on a grander scale, there are a lot of other folks who are impacted may not be able to park. I’d like to go back to Chick-fil-a myself," she says.
We spoke to the local franchise owner over the phone, who says he is aware of the problem and is working with his corporate office and the city of Huntsville to come up with a solution. One that he suggested was moving the handicap accessible spaces over to the left side of the front door, so that drivers could get in and out a little easier. A move like that would require corporate and city approval.
He says if anyone has a good idea to fix this solution, he's eager to hear it.
Filing an ADA complaint
When Karen Trevey first encountered a problem at Chick-fil-a, she struggled finding a way to report the potential ADA violation. Looking for answers, she turned to WHNT News 19's Legal Action Line for help. “At the time, WHNT had their legal call in, and was told the first thing to do was to call the police, but they weren’t really sure they had the authority," says Trevey.
It turns out, they really don't. A spokesman for the Huntsville Police Department says they only have the power to investigate criminal violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
So we researched it, and found the federal government has an entire website devoted to reporting ADA violations. Karen has filed a report and has promised to keep us posted on any progress made. “I don’t have any ill will towards anyone, but I would really like to see something to help the disabled," she says.
If you would like to report a business, housing group, or other public location that isn't fully handicap accessible, go to http://www.ada.gov/filing_complaint.htm