Thursday, January 31, 2013

ZBA Accepts Surrender

ZBA Chair Eric Beal, Thomas Ehrgood member, Rob Morra Building Commish, Attorney Larry Farber in hot seat

It took two hours and ZBA Chair Eric Beal seemed to want to let the public thrashing of a prominent local landlord go on for two more hours, but he finally relented and voted along with his two fellow board members to allow Grandonico Properties, LLC -- AKA Lincoln Realty -- to withdraw their appeal of the Building Commissioner's $100/day fine for violation of the town bylaw restricting one family units to four unrelated housemates.
 Town Attorney Joel Bard, Jeff Bagg town planner, Hilda Greenbaum ZBA member

Originally the Grandonicos appealed the Building Commissioner's decision, claiming they should not be fined because they were unaware of their tenants (overcrowding) actions and should therefor not be held accountable.

The tenants -- all UMass students -- contacted UMass legal services and their attorney, Carol Booth, put together overwhelming testimony showing the Grandonicos were well aware, and in fact encouraged, violation of the town zoning bylaw.
 Seven roommates!

After a potentially catastrophic fire that started in an illegal basement bedroom of #20 Gilreath Manor on September 13, the tenants were told by their landlord to hide evidence of bedrooms in the basements, which borders on obstruction of justice -- a criminal charge.  

After these documents became public due to the ZBA hearing (and this blog), the Grandonicos wished to turn off the spotlight by simply withdrawing their appeal.  Tonight they got their wish.
Click to enlarge/read

But the ZBA still strongly reaffirmed the right of the Building Commissioner to levy fines on the landlords for infractions that occur on their property.  A message that will not be lost on other landlords in town.

Front Row: Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe, Jonathan O'Keeffe Planning Board, Alisa Brewer, Select Board rear seat front


Anonymous said...

I can't believe Kathy Grandonico threw away all of that poor student's possessions!!! What "possessed" her! What a piece of work. The ZBA should throw the book at them. I'm glad Dustin has a lawyer and I hope he gets a huge award against the Grandonicos. And to think she was the President of the Chamber of Commerce while all this was going on. I am sure the Chamber is embarrassed by this whole affair. If they aren't they should be.

Tom Porter said...

Great story Larry - super reporting!

Larry Kelley said...

Thanks Tom!

I've covered a l-o-t of stories over the past six years; none of them more important than this one.

Anonymous said...

I think that Kathy Grandonico should be criminally prosecuted. It is a criminal offense for a landlord to remove a tenant's possessions from an apartment without a court order.

"up to six months in jail" serious.

And if she is doing it as part of a conspiracy to violate a municipal ordinance, then would that not make it an even more serious offense?

Anonymous said...

So what happens now? Is it a slap on the wrist fine and walk away?
"We will pay the fine but don't admint we did anything wrong" "The office person is gone now we didnt know" What bullshit