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Mom pushes HOA to allow special needs bus in West End community

HENRICO, Va. -- Mary Bennette-Browing said she never imagined when she moved into this private community that she would have trouble getting her two sons on a school bus.

She moved into the West End, into the Turtle Creek area managed by a homeowner’s association (HOA).

Bennette-Browing has health issues and two children with special needs who can`t walk to the front of the neighborhood to catch the bus. She said the HOA took action that will keep Henrico School buses from driving through their Turtle Creek neighborhood.

“I’m really stressed out because I can`t get the kids to school. They need to learn. Their way of learning is different from other kids and they have to start early and there`s no other way to get there, except the bus,” Bennette-Browing said.

Baird Stokes, president of the HOA, said homeowners grew concerned about extra traffic and the cost of expensive road repairs. Stokes said they spent nearly $50,000 recently to repair potholes and other road damage.

“There are certain families like ours that need the buses and with disabled children it is very dangerous for them to be standing by the side of a busy street,” Bennette-Browing said.

“These buses do damage to our roads and our parking lot,” Stokes said. “Our parking lot is not built to the standard of public roads and that was the issue, and buses were coming through -- not dropping off kids, using it as a cut through.”

After Bennette-Browing contacted the CBS 6 Problem Solvers, we reached out to the Turtle Creek HOA, and Henrico County officials.

Stokes said his HOA was willing to work with county leaders to get an exception for buses that carry students with special needs. Something that will now happen, and at least one mom can rest a little easier.

“We just have to send a letter confirming that we are allowing special needs buses to come through,” Stokes said. “This is not just for one child. If we have a second or third child then of course we will extend it to those children as well.”