Smoking vet allowed to stay in home

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Andy Nowicki Andy Nowicki

A 90-year-old, WWII veteran was on the verge of being evicted from his apartment in Newington over a smoking rule and on Tuesday, he went to Housing Court in Hartford to avoid eviction.

Andy Nowicki, who is on oxygen and has trouble walking, and his 90-year-old wife, who suffers from dementia, live at his apartment at the Cedar Village Elderly Housing Complex.

Cedar Village is run by the Newington Housing Authority.

Nowicki received eviction papers this summer after he said he isn't able to follow the new rule requiring residents to smoke at least 10 feet outside their homes.

War wounds and other ailments can make it tough for Nowicki to get outside. He said he has done the best he can on his scooter, but sometimes he could only make it to a breezeway outside his apartment.

"I think there's nobody here to stand up for our elderly," said his daughter Janet Nowicki. "And if I wasn't here, my brother wasn't here, my family wasn't here, where would they be?"

On Tuesday, Nowicki was surrounded by fellow veterans at Housing Court. He said he would rather be in battle with them, than deal with the Newington Housing Authority.

"I'd rather go back to the infantry and be in the outfit I was with," Nowicki said.

Janet Nowicki spoke up for her parents, contacting state Sen. Paul Doyle, who volunteered to represent Andy Nowicki for free.

"I think today common sense prevailed," Doyle said. "This should have happened months ago."

Tuesday after hours of mediation, both sides reached an agreement.

The Housing Authority director left court without talking to Eyewitness News, but the station did learn they won't evict Andy Nowicki and his wife.

Andy Nowicki will still have to abide by the 10 foot rule when he smokes, but in order to make that possible the housing authority will make his apartment handicapped accessible in the next 30 days. Nowicki and his wife will also be moved to the top of the list for a fully handicapped accessible apartment when one becomes available.

Doyle said he is also working with the veterans affairs commissioner to put in a ramp and canopy. Veterans told Eyewitness News they were happy to help, but are disappointed it got to this point.

"I just learned one thing today," said veteran Russ Meek. "I saw how the state of Connecticut can really waste money on something so inappropriate as trying to pick on a 90-year-old veteran."

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