Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Party House E-X-P-A-N-S-I-O-N?
Stephen Gharabegian, one of the more notorious absentee landlords in town, will go before the Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals on September 25 to request a Special Permit to "Change a 3 family house to 4 family house."
Of course these days "family" simply means four unrelated tenants, and on Phillips Street -- where Mr. Gharabegian (aka College Street and Knight Properties LLCs) owns four-out-of-nine dwellings -- that means UMass undergrad students.
Interestingly one main criteria for the ZBA in allowing such requests is, does it fit into the general character of the neighborhood?
And in this case, where 95% of the (supposedly) 64 tenants along the entire street are "college aged youth"-- many of them drawn by Phillips Street's rowdy reputation -- it's hard to imagine an increase of four residents can make a huge difference.
Kind of an "Escape from L.A." scenario where all the refugees are safely secluded in a giant makeshift holding area.
Still, on general principles the ZBA should deny the permit. Especially since the proposed expansion trips newer building codes that require a sprinkler system. And thus far Mr. Gharabegian makes no mention of installing such a lifesaver.
After the recent major fire at Southpoint Apartments or the fatal one at Rolling Green Apartments, where lack of sprinklers are grandfathered, who would argue that a such a safety system is too much of a burden?