Neighbors File Lawsuit Over Large Playscape for Terminally Ill Child, Claiming It's Too Tall, Lowers Property Values

Two neighbors filed suit against the family of a terminally ill child, calling the 14-foot high playscape they've built for him an "eyesore" which is too tall to be screened from their view.

Richard and Carole Gottleib are seeking $100,000 or less and the cost of their legal fees from their neighbors, Kim and Jason Costa. They have also requested a permanent injunction, saying the playscape must be torn down or brought to code because it violates the homeowner's association (HOA) rules of their Georgetown, Texas neighborhood.

Kim Costa says that her neighbors have called the playscape an "eyesore" that "brings down their property value," according to KXAN.

The Costas built the playscape for 3-year-old Colton over the summer of 2019. Colton has Hurler's syndrome, a terminal, degenerative and incurable genetic disease which affects physical and mental capabilities. The life expectancy of individuals with the most severe type of Hurler's syndrome is 10 years, though some sufferers with milder versions of the disease may live into their teens and beyond.

"It's very hard to use that word because statistics say he shouldn't live past his twenties and as a mom, that's the hardest thing you can ever hear—is that your child has a terminal illness," Kim Costa told KTBC.

Kim Costa considers the playscape an important therapeutic tool. Though she knows orthopedic surgeries are likely in Colton's future, she thinks keeping active may help slow the progress of the disease. The notion of telling the child that they have to remove the playscape he requested is the "toughest" part of the situation for her.

"We're trying to live in the now because the future is very scary with this kind of diagnosis," Kim Costa told KXAN. "So, to see him get to run around and play and be as mobile as he is right now when he can be, you better believe we want to see it. We want him to be active and enjoy his life."

Playscape
A Texas family has filed suit against their neighbor for building a play scape similar to the one in this stock photo for their terminally ill son that does not comply with HOA rules. stu99/Getty

On Monday, while Kim Costa was speaking to KXAN, other neighbors dotted the Costas' lawn with foam hearts on lawn spikes covered in messages of support. "It's pretty overwhelming the amount of love and support we're being shown through all this, which I'm thankful for," she said.

Any proposed structure of size in the Costa family's neighborhood must be approved for building by the Estrella Subdivisions Architecture and Design Review Committee (ADRC). The ADRC told KXAN that the Costa family submitted plans for the playscape for review in accordance with their guidelines. They would not comment as to whether or not the plans had been approved before the Costas built the swing set, citing the upcoming lawsuit.

The Gottleibs' lawyer told KTBC that while they have no comment, they only want the playscape to be brought to code or removed—the monetary amount they've requested in the suit is an amount required by the state to file the suit.