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