Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Exponentially Expanding Empire
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 ...