DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – When the City of Denton and Denton Municipal Electric decided to build a substation above Joe Rivas’ home, where he has lived for three years, they also offered the children’s book author an opportunity.
They offered him $108,00 to relocate and own a 4 bedroom 2 bathroom house in Denton. A frequent advisor to the city and University of North Texas on accommodation issues related to those confined to wheelchairs, Rivas has cerebral palsy. It’s a neurological condition that limits his motor skills and speech. Thus, his situation is different from the former residents of the other five houses on the lot now scheduled for destruction.
Both the city and DME were compassionate in their approach to Rivas’ living situation. During 2015, a relocation specialist coordinated the opportunity for Rivas to own the new home in a location ideal to his needs. The city is currently updating and repairing the new house, according to Rivas’, to meet his special needs. It’s located near the UNT campus, his church, a major hospital and several grocery stores, according to Rivas.
But after consulting with council and receiving unanimous direction to move forward with the plans (including at least two unanimous votes), two council members voiced their criticism of the plan for Rivas to move in. The council voted 6 to 1 on Tuesday, February 16 to make the final approval for the cost, but the opposed council members are now asking for a reconsideration of the votes. They disagree with the proposed cost for the house and the amount spent on upgrading the needed modifications, according to Rivas.
But the council members said it’s not the cost but rather making sure the previous owner of the renovated home was treated fairly when the city bought it.
Council member Kevin Roden said, legally, it is the responsibility of DME to ‘provide adequate relocation expenses’ for Joe.
Rivas said he no longer pays rent since he isn’t on the Denton Housing Authority housing program anymore. If the project isn’t approved by the council, Rivas said he will be homeless. He said the city and DME urged him to get off housing so he could own his own home…
The council is schedule to revote on the issue tomorrow at 1 p.m. during the council meetings.
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