A little girl with a genetic disorder has been at the center of a construction fight in Whitman, Massachusetts.
Her family is in the process of building a new addition to make their home more handicap accessible for her, but they say one of their neighbors did not approve of the renovation.
Four-year-old Shelby Feeney has "CHARGE syndrome," which impacts her ability to walk, see and hear. Her parents, Nicole and Daniel Feeney, have lived in the same home for roughly a decade, and knew they needed to renovate it in order for Shelby to better access it.
“She will either crawl around the house or we will have to carry her, but it’s really hard,” Shelby’s mother Nicole Feeney said.
The addition includes a ramp, stair lift and handicap accessible bathroom for Shelby. The community helped make it possible through donations on GoFundMe, but the Feeneys say some of that money had to go toward legal fees because one of their neighbors was angry.
“She came over and knocked on our door one day and just said she wasn’t happy,” Shelby’s mother Nicole Feeney said. “She said it loomed over their house.”
The Feeneys say they then got a letter from their neighbor’s attorney, informing them that their neighbors were not pleased with the project.
They did have a building permit but decided to go to Whitman’s Zoning Board of Appeals to try and get the board to affirm the inspector’s permit so construction could continue without worry.
The zoning meeting took place 7 p.m. Monday at Whitman Town Hall, and the zoning board affirmed the permit.
Neighbors and other community members attended to support Shelby.
Signs with the hashtag #ImWithShelby have been displayed on front doors up and down Erin Street.
“I was absolutely flabbergasted,” neighbor Stephanie Blackman said. “Because Shelby deserves to live comfortably in her own home.”
The Feeneys had hope they would reconsider.
“This is for Shelby,” Feeney said. “To give her space to where she can turn on a faucet by herself, be able to reach a countertop, to grow up and be a kid”
As of 7:05 p.m. Monday, the neghbors' attorney said they have dropped their complaint.
Construction on Shelby's handicap accessible home will continue to move forward, and the Feeney family hopes to move in this summer.