Building Commissioner Rob Morra right, Pat Kamins on his right
The Safe & Health Neighborhoods Working Group -- perhaps the most successful committee in recent history in a town overrun with committees -- has begat another working subgroup also appointed by Town Manger John Musante tasked with planning "implementation" of the Rental Permit bylaw.
Amherst Town Meeting overwhelming passed the historic bylaw on May 20th, and it goes into effect January 1st. Building Commissioner Rob Morra told the new group today that he has an "aggressive schedule" in mind to make that January 1st deadline.
The estimated number of properties that will require registration is around 1,500
Three of the four Rental Bylaw Implementation Group members attended today's kick off meeting -- Pat Kamins, property manager, Phil Jackson, homeowner, Maurianne Adams, member of Coalition of Amherst Neighborhoods. Jacob Lefton, a tenant and frequent critic at the Safe & Healthy Neighborhood Working Group meetings, is the fourth member of the group but was on vacation.
Other side of the table. Phil Jackson center
One major complaint about SHNWG was the lack of a tenant on the 15 member committee.
At one point the fledgling Rental Bylaw Implementation group was outnumbered 4-1 by concerned citizens who came to the meeting -- for the most part -- to complain about the new system. The committee has decided to have a "public comment" period as part of their meetings as did the Safe and Healthy Neighbourhoods Working Group.
Rob Morra said the implementation of the new system is being done in-house and he hopes the Information Technology department will have a system in place by October 1st for online registration and one stop shopping cart for all the forms required to make the system work.
The Amherst Select Board is scheduled to discuss and vote on a registration fee in late September. The Safe and Health Neighborhood Working Group already recommended the fee be set at $100, but it remains to be seen if multi-unit owners or large apartment complexes will pay that fee per unit or just once per mailing address.
For instance will Rolling Green Apartments pay $100 or $20,400 to register all 204 units at their 1 Rolling Green Drive location?
The Rental Bylaw Implementation Group scheduled meetings for three consecutive Tuesdays next month: September 10, 17th and 24th.
The rental permit system is the town's response to a chorus of complaints over the past many years about overcrowded, unsafe, disruptive rental housing owned by absentee landlords preying on tenants in a very tight rental market.