On Wednesday the New York State Division of Human Rights sided with a Long Island condo board that wants to fine Robert and Angelica Parker $150 every time their four-year-old son, Liam, plays on the sidewalk outside their home, according to a report by the New York Post.
In September, the Parkers filed a discrimination complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights when they received two letters and a phone call from Marie Dellafranca, the South Shore Villas condo association vice president, warning them to stop allowing Liam to ride his tricycle and scooter in the condo’s outdoor common areas. The Parkers claimed they were facing discrimination because other families in the condo whose children played outside were not receiving the same threats as the Parkers.
“The reality of it is, we were the first and only family,” Robert Parker told the New York Post back in November.
“After I filed the complaint with HUD, other families were notified because [Marie and Vincent Dellafranca (Vincent built the complex)] were trying to cover their ass. We were the only family to get these written threats of fines.”
Angelica Parker is from the Dominican Republic, and Robert noted that his son was the minority among the condo’s other children.
“Their behavior, and the fact that we’re the only family that received written threats of fines [and that] my son happens to be the only Latino out there, the only non-white child in the community, just raises my level of concern about the possible motive,” Robert told the New York Post.
As of Wednesday, however, New York State Division of Human Rights Director William LaMot ruled that the condo association was following its bylaws by enacting the warnings.
“We disagree with DHR’s decision and are evaluating other potential legal remedies,” Mark Radi, the Parkers’ attorney and partner at Sokoloff Stern LLP, told Inman in an email.
It’s unclear whether the condo association’s objections are primarily legal and safety liabilities or disruption of the condo’s general atmosphere.
Marie Dellafranca had previously written in a letter to the State Division of Human Rights that there had been complaints from another condo resident “that the Parker children were playing in the common area in a noisy fashion, and were riding scooters/bikes on the sidewalks and the grass areas outside of the units.”
However, Michael Jude Jannuzzi, the condo association’s attorney and founding partner of the Law Office of Michael Jude Jannuzzi, Esq., recently cited liability issues and conformity with the condo board’s bylaws.
“Little boy riding his bike in the parking lot gets hit by a car,” Jannuzzi told the New York Post. “Your insurance premium — every homeowner in the association — just went up by $2,000 a year. There’s your big deal.”
“One of [the condo board’s] duties is to insure that residents act in conformity with the by-laws,” Jannuzzi told Inman in an email.
“I don’t understand what their objection is,” Radi told Inman.
A new option for resolution may be in sight, however.
“Currently, the Condominium Association, which is comprised of unit owners, is having a vote as to whether to permit a portion of the common area of the condominium, be transformed for set aside recreational use,” Jannuzzi told Inman.
“That decision has always been with the Condominium Association solely,” Jannuzzi added. “The sole consideration remains and has always been, liability for the Condominium Association and safety for the residents.”
The Dellafranca Development Corporation did not immediately respond to requests for comment.