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Is ADA Handicapping Some Businesses? [AUDIO]

A number of New Jersey business owners looking to elevate their properties and avoid another disaster like Superstorm Sandy are at risk of facing yet another hurdle.

Flickr User intheberg

At a recent town hall along the Jersey shore, Governor Chris Christie said he’s been hearing plenty of complaints from owners who are being introduced to the rules and regulations in place with the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

A business that’s lifted a few feet off the ground would not be accessible to disabled patrons, unless that business had a ramp or elevator in place. According to Kevin Stretch, President of the Long Beach Island Business Association, such features offer businesses a double whammy.

“These ramps might be an extra $20,000 to $30,000 dollars,” Stretch said, noting Sandy-devastated businesses may already be dealing with a large debt load because of loans and initial construction costs.

On top of the cost, Stretch said, accessibility features could take away from a business’s retail space or restaurant seating.

“Now they’re bringing in less money,” Stretch continued. “You’re trying to help out the handicapped, and yet, you’re handicapping the businesses by creating all these extra expenses, especially in this time of trouble.”

Christie acknowledged the rough situation businesses may be experiencing, but he said there’s nothing he can do about it because the ADA is federal law.

Christie said the ADA is an example of legislation that seems like a good idea at the start but can end up hurting everyday citizens in the end.

“So whenever at the state level or the federal level, we come up with an idea that sounds really, really wonderful, all I want you to do is ask who’s paying for it,” Christie said. “Force us to answer that question. Nobody answered that before, and now we know the answer.”

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