PORT WASHINGTON, Nassau County (WABC) — The parents of a little girl with autism on Long Island are celebrating a victory they say will help keep their daughter safe.

Stevie and Angela Bovis, parents of 4-year-old Stella, unveiled the newly installed Autism Zone signs on their street in Port Washington.

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena and representatives from the Nicholas Center attended the grand opening.

The Bovis recently fought a long and expensive legal battle to fence in their yard so Stella could play outside safely.

“We needed the extra protection and we also didn’t want to take away her right to play,” said mother Stevie Hill-Bovis.

But they faced fierce opposition from their neighbors.

“I thought if they had a problem, they should come directly to us and not get a petition behind our backs,” Hill-Bovis said.

The battle forced the family to spend money and time appealing their case to the city’s Zoning Board.

The variance was granted last week by the Americans with Disabilities Act Zoning Board of Appeals, which found the fence to be a reasonable accommodation.

“I hope this will raise awareness going forward about what is considered a smart fit,” DeSena said.

The city supervisor also used the opportunity to remind other families with children with autism that if they want similar signs in their neighborhood, all they have to do is reach out.

Although it was a happy ending to the battle for them, concerns and resentments still exist between them and their neighbors.

The family said that 16 neighbors petitioned against it. But there was also an outpouring of kindness. Nearly 700 people have written in support, the family said.

To help the Boviss fight for a better life for their daughter, Supervisor DeSena ordered signs to be erected to warn motorists that they live on the corner of busy Port Washington Blvd.

“It takes more than a village to raise a child with disabilities,” said Stella Spanakos of the Nicholas Center for Autism. “Everyone needs it.”


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