VOL. 2, NO. 3

This July. President Bush signed into law the AMERICANS With DISABILITIES ACT of 1990 (ADA). The law prohibits discrimination of disabled persons where public accommodations are concerned. This new civil rights legislation is designed to improve access to federal and privately owned facilities. ADA will help set standards for employment policies and practices. In addition, they will set the precedent for public accommodation in commercial buildings. ADA compliance will mean meeting federal regulations due to be issued by July of 1991. This law will supersede local and state requirements that are less stringent. New buildings opened for first occupancy 30 months from July, 1990, must meet the new ADA requirements. ADA standards also apply to renovation projects. Permits for renovation issued prior to the enactment are exempted. As of July, 1990, renovations must make space accessible and usable for disabled persons. The architect faces a challenge. Any architectural barriers must be moved immediately. However, the law recognizes it would be disproportionate for an owner to spend more than 30 percent of his renovation cost for accessibility requirements. the cost of the removal, overall financial resources of
the facility, number of persons employed, the impact on the operation itself, the effect of the removal on expenses, the type of operation along with its composition, structure, work forces functions, and geographic separateness. Examples of "readily achievable barrier" that might fit this definition are: small entrances where a stoop should be ramped, fixtures blocking an entrance or the lack of bathroom grab bars. Currently the government allows a tax deduction for the Factors to be considered in determining if removal of a barrier is readily achievable include: associated in the design, construction or renovation. A penalty for non-compliance would likely be the correction of the problem in most cases. However, if the attorney general believes a party has purposefully resisted complying to ADA regulations, he can take greater measures. Damages could be assessed up to $50,000 for a first offense and up to $100,000 for each subsequent offense. Compliance with ADA should not put constraints on design. The ADA is part of the concept of universal design, which is becoming more important as the "graying of America" continues at an increased rate. The partners at Chase Fetters Hewitt have been making design decisions for disabled and elderly persons for several years. Their designs assist in the freedom to lead as normal a life as possible. Bartlett Homes and Bethel Manor are two such facilities. They recognize universal design before undertaking new projects and renovation, because they know it absolutely, positively has to be done right. NOTE: CFH partners realize this law will have a dramatic impact on building owners and the construction industry. Because all the information cannot possibly be covered in this one issue and because non-compliance could result in civil damages, CFH would like to invite you to call our office to explore the impact in more detail.
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construction of accessibility features. Section 190 of the IRS Code allows up to a $35,000 tax deduction per year to businesses that make existing facilities accessible. The American Institute of Architects supports new legislation which was recently introduced to expand the current tax assistance. Failure by building owners to comply with ADA requirements will constitute an act of discrimination against those with disabilities. This inaction could result in a civil action being taken against owners and others

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