Monday, September 8, 2014

Is nine too many?

The occupancy capacity of the little house at 110 Logtown Road,  a one family unit which is limited by a generation-old town zoning bylaw to no more than "four unrelated occupants," comes up for discussion at a Zoning Board of Appeals hearing Thursday night.

The landlord and tenants are appealing a Notice of Violation, "Cease & Desist" order issued by Amherst Building Inspector Jon Thompson in mid-July.  If the ZBA overrules the Building Inspector the proposal for a waiver of the 4 person limit will then proceed to the Planning Board as part of a Site Plan Approval.

At less than 1,250 square feet of finished space the house is kind of small for even four people, let alone the request for nine.

The main concern in a "college town" with increasing density per unit of housing is that it will result in "college aged youth" negatively impacting a residential neighborhood with loud noise, inappropriate activities children should not be exposed to, and general unsightliness with housekeeping bringing down property values.

But since these particular youth are involved with farming, the usual negative neighborhood fallout is probably not going to happen.

Still, that house is awful small for nine people.

Click to enlarge/read

It would help of course if the building owner, Onesta Properties, had a better reputation.



Anonymous said...

9? In what is at most a 3 bedroom house. Even 6 is pushing it.

Walter Graff said...

That's nothing. In NYC a landlord just set up a two bedroom for twenty two people. Absolutely illegal but hey, they try.

Anonymous said...

Yes, nine is too many.

Dr. Ed said...

The Mass State Sanitary Code, 105 CMR 410 sets a quite clear square footage requirement for bedroom occupancy and and a unit square footage relative to the number of occupants in the unit.

That has the power of law -- and while I'm not going to do the math, my gut feeling is that is being exceeded here. Just sayin....

Dr. Ed said...

By request:

105 CMR 410.400(A):
Every dwelling unit shall contain at least 150 square feet of floor space for its first occupant, and at least 100 square feet of floor space for each additional occupant, the floor space
to be calculated on the basis of total habitable room area.

105 CMR 410.400(B):
In a dwelling unit, every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant shall contain
at least 70 square feet of floor space; every room occupied for sleeping purposes by more than
one occupant shall contain at least 50 square feet of floor space for each occupant.


I know these regs are confusing -- and I added the proper citation for each paragraph at the top of it. Otherwise, this is cut/paste from the URL that is on the bottom.

Note also that it is "habitable room area" and not the footprint of the building - you can't include the boiler room, closets, etc.

You also run into a ceiling height requirement and (for bedrooms, in most cases) an "escape window/door" requirement which makes more sense if you think of a 200 lb firefighter, in full gear including air tank, being able to fit through it.

The easiest way to apply this is to first see if the *gross* square footage of the entire unit exceeds the 150/100 square foot total occupancy figure. Then jump to (B) and calculate the 70/50 figure for each bedroom relative to the number of people intended to sleep in each bedroom.

I've never had to go beyond here -- any unit that was close enough for me to have to calculate had already failed the first or second test -- but if it hasn't you then have to calculate the net USABLE square footage of the entire unit and that involves real work and your high school Geometry. But only if the unit passes this too are the specific number of people permitted to reside therein.

So says the Massachusetts Department of Public Health -- and the courts recognize those regs...

Anonymous said...

What all of you don't seem to understand is that this has nothing to do with the amount of people that can live in that home or any other for that matter, that is for the health and safety laws and the people that enforce those to determine the amount of people that can live in a particular property. This case is about zoning only, and allow an educational based non profit organization to be exempt from the BS bylaw that has been created by the town to restrict the number of occupants. This would be applicable to any property that Many Hands Farm Corp would rent, not just this one specifically. Again any property they rent, the health and safety by-laws would determine how many people would be allowed to safely occupy it. They are just seeking a determination to allow them to be exempt from the bylaw of 4 unrelated based on them being a 501C educational based non-profit organization, it's that simple.