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Jan 5, 2012 10:50 AM

Cooper's Playhouse Fight Goes National

During an exclusive sit-down interview with a state legislator, the founder of a national advocacy group and the mother of a child at the center of a controversy at the state capitol in Frankfort, LEX 18 learned there's not just a Kentucky legislative effort to allow a Lexington boy, Cooper Veloudis, to keep his playhouse. There is a national legal push as well.

Rep. Richard Henderson (D- Jeffersonville) has filed HB160, known as Cooper's law. The bill allows homeowners to build a structure on their property less than 100 square feet that is necessary to accommodate or be used in the therapy of a disabled child, regardless of homeowners' association rules. These structures, like a playhouse, must be deemed necessary by a doctor and look visually appealing.

This legal battle began in early December, after the Andover Forest Homeowners' Association told Cooper's parents that his playhouse, used for his cerebral palsy therapy was against code and must go.

Meanwhile, on the national front, advocacy group Drums and Disabilities (or DAD) is taking up Cooper's fight. DAD founder Pat Gesualdo flew to Kentucky Thursday to support Cooper's bill. He also announced that his non-profit has filed a petition with the United States Department of Justice arguing Cooper's civil rights have be violated.

Both Henderson and Gesualdo say they want to see Cooper's law in enacted all 50 states.

Cooper's mother, Tiffeny Veloudis, was also in Frankfort Thursday. She says she is very excited about the support, both in Kentucky and nationwide. Veloudis says she believes the bill will pass the Kentucky legislature, noting that the Facebook page "Cooper's House" she created has had more than 2.5 million hits.

The Andover Forest Homeowners' Association has requested medical records from the Veloudis family. At this point, the playhouse still stands at the Veloudis home as the HOA considers its final decision.

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