Wednesday, October 31, 2012

More Beds Than A Barracks

 11 Phillips Street, Amherst (but touching UMass)

The crackdown continues on Phillips Street, the slummiest street in Amherst.  Over the weekend police busted 33 Phillips Street, arresting eight young men (including UMass party anthem "singer" Paul Markham) for rowdy behavior, and now 11 Phillips Street is in the crosshairs.

Of course both dwellings are owned by the "King of the Decadent Street", Stephan Gharabegian.  And yes, notice 11 Phillips is catagorized by our assessor as a "one family" dwelling, meaning only four (4!) unrelated housemates can set up shop under that particular roof.

From: McKay, Donald, Assistant Fire Chief
To: amherstac
Sent: Wed, Oct 31, 2012 1:51 pm
Subject: 11 Phillips St.

              The following is the verbatim copy of the email I sent to the Building Commissioners office yesterday:            

At approximately 10:00 am today the Fire Department was contacted by APD Lt Ron Young who had concerns about the fire safety of the occupants residing at 11 Phillips St.

APD had obtained a criminal search warrant and discovered the fire safety concerns upon gaining entry to the residence. I responded and conducted a fire safety inspection.

My findings are as follows: The fire alarm system panel was in trouble and I question whether or not it was serviceable.  No permit has been issued for the new panel. I found a first floor pull station that had been activated and not reset.  I have no record of a fire department response to this address.

14 students in residence in the single family occupancy per APD. 1 bedroom with 2 beds on the 1st floor with 2 additional mattresses stored under each bed, 2 bedrooms with 2 beds each on the 3rd floor (# 7 & 8). Covered, disabled, or missing smoke detectors east and west bedroom, basement rooms 4, 5, 6, 9, 2nd floor rooms 7, 8, 3rd floor. Access to the fire alarm panel obstructed. Egress from the kitchen obstructed.

This spring and summer, Health, Fire, and Building inspected this residence on the 29th of June and the 17 of August.  Each inspection found the same number of bedrooms or possible bedrooms.  The owner did not allow us entry into most of the bedrooms as they were occupied and locked.

The students will not be allowed to sleep in the building until the fire alarm system is returned to service. I was able to make contact with the owner who was in New York and he did arrange to have the fire alarm system placed back in service.  I checked on this about 5:30PM last night.

Mike Roy is at the National Fire Academy this week but he and I have talked and upon his return we will issue fire safety violations to the owner.

Assistant Chief Donald R. McKay,
EMT-P, MPH Amherst Fire Department


Anonymous said...

In this case, I think it might be relevant to mention why the police cracked down on this particular house, as it wasn't for just any ordinary reason: allegedly, these fourteen residents were running an unlicensed bar at this house. The Gazette has the salient details, not including any names of students:

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, that and operating as an underground Frathouse.

Soon after Gharabegian purchased the property in 2005 he went before the Zoning Board of Appeals requesting it become a Frat (it had been a sorority but that use expired), and he was turned down.

Therefore it reverted back to a "one family."

And yes, you could have a dozen members of "one family" live there legally. But not a dozen or more unrelated housemates.

Anonymous said...

A student neighborhood in Allston, MA had a 5 alarm fire last weekend.
Injuries - but everyone got out thanks to alert neighbors banging on doors

Imagine that fire happening in Amherst- students packed into bedrooms (basements with no means of egress), passed out from partying (neighbors too) fire safety equipment (detectors/ alarms/ extinguishers) not present or broken...

Larry Kelley said...

And the call comes in at a time when all of our professional firefighters are aboard ambulances stuck over at Cooley Dickinson Hospital dealing with drunk students.

Anonymous said...

The town should padlock ALL of Mr. Gharabegian's properties until they can be demonstrated to be in compliance.

And if there are violations in the future, then he shouldn't be allowed to rent them at all.