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Family takes down grandmother's wheelchair ramp under pressure from county

The family of a 91-year-old Maryland woman says the Prince George's County government pushed them to remove her home's wheelchair ramp. In a GoFundMePage, the family says Evelyn Strahle, who they refer to as the matriarch of their loving family, is wheelchair-bound, and without the ramp, she is homebound.

Strahle's eldest son, Bob constructed the ramp for his parents. Strahle's front porch is steep, which is "treacherous to any elderly person," the family writes on the GoFundMe page. "Leaving her home for even a short time was nearly impossible due to the danger of those steps," the page reads. The family set up the "Ramp for Grandma" campaign after the county told the Strahles to remove the ramp.

Bob built the ramp not realizing that he needed a permit from Prince George's County (PG) government, the family says. 

"The ramp was a dream for Evelyn and her husband, David. She no longer needed medical transport for appointments. No longer trapped by the prospect of never leaving her home, she was mobile and finally had freedom!" the GoFundMe page reads. "Unfortunately this dream was short lived! Shortly after construction, PG County officials left a notice on the front door saying the ramp was in violation."

Gary Cunningham, deputy director of Permits, Inspections and Enforcement in the county, told CBS News that a notice is issued any time there is "non-permitted construction."

"The notice said do one of two things: obtain the proper permits or return the property to its original condition. This is a standard in building codes for any district," he said.

According to the GoFundMe page, which seeks to raise money for a new ramp, Bob asked the county for a waiver on the ramp. His request was denied, according to the family.

"Negotiations immediately began to rectify the current situation," the page reads. "Hoping for minimal complications, Bob tried to reason and paid $150 to begin the process of the permit for the ramp."

"He completed and notarized the proper forms to facilitate this, yet through the process they continued to phone, send mail, and eventually sent a certified letter summoning David and Evelyn to go to court to show just cause why they should not be fined or disciplined further," the family writes. 

"The only relief from the county would be to remove the ramp. ... Once again Evelyn is housebound!" the page says.

Cunningham said Bob did try to obtain a permit, but was unsuccessful. 

"What he did was try to use our electronic system ... if you don't know how to use it, it's complicated," Cunningham said. "We offered for him to come in and sit down with one of our permit specialist, to walk him through the process, and he didn't do that."

"[The Strahles] received a court summons and prior to the court date, [Bob] took down the ramp," Cunningham said. Now that the ramp is removed, they no longer have to appear in court, Cunningham said.

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