Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Exponentially Expanding Empire

60-62 Railroad Street (left) 64-66 Railroad (right) 

On December 13 the Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals will decide if two contiguous Railroad Street properties, currently zoned as "two family" dwellings (allowing eight unrelated tenants per house) can expand by 50%, going from four to a total of six units, or 24 unrelated occupants.

GP Amherst, LLC purchased the properties back in July.  The man behind the LLC is YPT, You-Pan Tzeng, who also owns five properties in town under his own name.   Four more via GP Amherst and another five using KH Associates, or a total of 14 properties.

In the past year, using those two LLCs, he has purchased ten houses. 

Yes, Mr. Tzeng is in the BIG Leagues. A property empire totaling $5 million in valuation, generating $100,000 in tax revenue to Amherst this year.

So you have to wonder if special treatment comes into play -- especially regarding code enforcement?

When You-Pan Tzeng purchased 321 Lincoln Avenue it came with a legally binding "owner occupied" provision, the result of an expansion from one family to the current two family back in 1993.  In a hearing last April, where he tried to get the Zoning Board to remove that provision, a bevy of neighbors descended on the public meeting to vociferously remind the ZBA about the detrimental impact non-owner occupied housing unleashes on neighborhoods.  

The zoning board unanimously reaffirmed the loud-and-clear difference between owner occupied vs absentee owner.  They denied the change in Special Permit.  So then what happened?  Did the house revert back to the original 1996 zoning of only one family (four unrelated housemates), thus costing the new owner $15,000 per year in rent? 

Well, no.  Apparently Mr Tzeng moved his residency from a ritzy $489,300 Longmeadow home to a tiny one-room unit at 321 Lincoln Avenue with seven housemates.  Hmm ...

And when friendly neighbors from the 'hood dropped by to welcome him to one of Amherst's oldest neighborhoods he seemed never to be at "home."  The college-aged roommates never seemed to know of his whereabouts either, and reportedly got nervous when asked about it.

Double hmm ... 


Anonymous said...

Booooooring. You need to explore more topics. This blog is becoming a one-stop-shop clearinghouse for Amherst housing complaints.

Anonymous said...

Wrong! Excellent article and very timely given the zoning articles for town meeting this session.

Amherst has never been strong on enforcement; perhaps now they will have to be!

John Edwards

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're reporting on this stuff. This is impacting the town. This guy is a slum lord. If 1:59 pm doesn't like the story, he can start his own flippin' blog.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, I think this whole situation clearly shows the need -- I think the town webpage should have a listing of those who OWN (not manage) rental properties in Amherst, and that this should be required to include both an address and a phone number which is answered during the hours that telemarketers are allowed to harass the rest of us (9PM everyday?).

Fine tune it so that the guy owning the duplex or the gal "renting" the family home to her sister for tax reasons doesn't get dragged in, maybe make it "3 or more" apartments, but have it published and public.

If you know who the people are who are responsible -- not just those who work for them -- any citizen can make it clear to them that they need to either clean up their act or be held responsible.

I once was being harassed by a sleazy corporation. I got the names and addresses of the three corporate officers from the Sec of State (this was pre-web) and I sent a polite letter of concern to each and got an equally polite letter of apology from their (not the corporation's) attorney -- and the harassment ended.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, anon 1:59

We come here for coverage of stuff like this.

If you're bored, perhaps you need to get away from the computer and find a hobby.

Keep it up, Larry.

Anonymous said...

I DO have a hobby. It's writing inane things on Larry's blog.

Anonymous said...

fuck you larry you piece of shit scumbag.