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Disabled Vet's Therapeutic Carport Forced To Be Dismantled

A disabled Vietnam veteran has reportedly been ordered to take down the carport that helps him lead a healthier life.

According to a very interesting story by Bristow Marchant for the Lake Wylie Pilot, veteran Tommy Tidwell has been staying at the home of his ex-wife on Lake Wylie in North Carolina for more than a year.  He finds the location helps his health, as he suffers from COPD, depression, PTSD andhas a skin condition where he must avoid direct sunlight.

Tidwell built an open-air carport next to the home so he and his chihuahua Brody could have a comfortable, shaded spot to spend time.

“I could go out there to sit down, relax, watch the fish jump,” Tidwell said. “It helped with my depression, and with my PTSD.”

Tidwell’s days of enjoying the shade with Brody have come to an end as he received a letter from York County codes enforcement officials telling him the carport must be removed, reports the Lake Wylie Pilot.

The structure is said to violate the county’s set-back requirement for the lake.

A former Air Force sergeant in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, Tidwell has lasting effects from his time in service. He visits a Department of Veterans Affairs psychiatrist regularly, has to take 13 pills a day, and believes exposure to Agent Orange gave him a skin condition that causes him to “scale up like a fish."

The carport not only offered Tidwell a way to spend time outside given his skin condition but it also supported him when he had to walk outside.

“I can’t walk more than 20 feet,” Tidwell said. “So it allowed me to stand there and get enough of a breath to move to the door.”

Tidwell says there are many homes on the lake that have similar carports, and have not had complaints filed or been told to remove the structure. He thinks a neighbor with whom he has a dispute singled him out to the county.

“Our inspectors work on a complaint basis only,” Eddie Moore, development services manager at the county planning office, told the Lake Wylie Pilot. “They don’t go out looking for violations. We have such a large geographic area to cover, they can’t do that and get to all the complaints we do get.”

Tidwell may file an appeal, but he said the $600 cost involved is too much given that the county could still deny the request. But Moore believes Tidwell’s appeal would likely be granted, and that he has another option: requesting a hardship exemption.

Tidwell did remove the carport, in order to avoid the $495 per day fine the county would have imposed after the given deadline.

“It would end up costing me more than the carport,” Tidwell said.

“I feel like I had more freedom in Vietnam than I have here,” Tidwell added.

Photo Source: Lake Wylie Pilot


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