Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Three's A Crowd

321 Lincoln Avenue, Amherst's Great White whale

After two years of cat and mouse attempts at enforcement of the zoning bylaw limiting 321 Lincoln Avenue to only two apartments ("two family") one of which must be "owner occupied" Building Commissioner Rob Morra declared victory with a signed legal document recorded 4/27/15.

The first thing You-Pan Tzeng did after buying 321 Lincoln Avenue three years ago was try to remove the "owner occupied" zoning requirement that legally came along with the building, which he of course knew about prior to purchasing it.

Tzeng lost that court battle but not before costing Amherst taxpayers over $15,000 in legal fees.

Neighbors along Fearing Street and Lincoln Avenue had been complaining almost since the day  he purchased the property, mainly about the extra tenants and the noise and cars that come with them.

But Inspection Services can't simply walk into a house unless invited to do so by a legal resident.  Last winter Morra received a call from a Boston attorney requesting he inspect the premises at 321 Lincoln where his daughter was a tenant.

They had been told when signing a lease that the house was only two apartments -- hers and the one below -- but the daughter clearly heard sounds associated with a 3rd unit above her.

At last the Building Commissioner had the legal grounds to do a complete inspection. Once Mr. Morra confirmed the presence of a stand alone unit on the 3rd floor -- complete with bedroom and kitchen -- he could assess fines of $100 per  day

Tzeng could not throw out the legal tenants from either of the two apartments (especially when one has a lawyer dad) because they had a signed lease and the third illegal unit was "owner occupied" by his daughter who attends UMass.

Hmm ... what to do?  Surrender!

This time, Moby Dick did not escape.

Click to enlarge
Cracked structural beam just discovered in June at 321 Lincoln Avenue


Anonymous said...

Good for the town. Now this guy knows who really owns that house.

Larry Kelley said...

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

Anonymous said...

"The wants of the many can easily be passed off as needs because the few have little choice."

You could use your response to any government action, regardless of how grotesque. All you need is some group with some power to say that what they want is a need. It does not make it logical or settled.

To say that Amherst needed this is more than a stretch. To say they want this, well I would not argue one bit that many local community members want to have control over their neighbors' properties. I would feel more than comfortable saying that they want it so much that they cannot even discern it from a need any longer.

I know you are old enough to remember the saying, which you also know is rarely said any more...."possession is 9/10ths of the law." The modern version is more suited, and you post versions of it quite regularly..."the law has the right to 9/10ths of all possessions", why...well they need them.

Larry Kelley said...

All I can tell you for sure is Amherst is now a better place because of the Rental Permit Bylaw.

And if there really were egregious violations of the personal sanctity of anyone's right to enjoy their most valuable possession -- the roof over their heads -- you would have heard about it by now.

Jasper Lieber said...

So what will happen? (what do you mean by "surrender"?)