ZBA Chair Eric Beal, Thomas Ehrgood member, Rob Morra Building Commish, Attorney Larry Farber in hot seat
It took two hours and ZBA Chair Eric Beal seemed to want to let the public thrashing of a prominent local landlord go on for two more hours, but he finally relented and voted along with his two fellow board members to allow Grandonico Properties, LLC -- AKA Lincoln Realty -- to withdraw their appeal of the Building Commissioner's $100/day fine for violation of the town bylaw restricting one family units to four unrelated housemates.
Town Attorney Joel Bard, Jeff Bagg town planner, Hilda Greenbaum ZBA member
Originally the Grandonicos appealed the Building Commissioner's decision, claiming they should not be fined because they were unaware of their tenants (overcrowding) actions and should therefor not be held accountable.
The tenants -- all UMass students -- contacted UMass legal services and their attorney, Carol Booth, put together overwhelming testimony showing the Grandonicos were well aware, and in fact encouraged, violation of the town zoning bylaw.
After a potentially catastrophic fire that started in an illegal basement bedroom of #20 Gilreath Manor on September 13, the tenants were told by their landlord to hide evidence of bedrooms in the basements, which borders on obstruction of justice -- a criminal charge.
After these documents became public due to the ZBA hearing (and this blog), the Grandonicos wished to turn off the spotlight by simply withdrawing their appeal. Tonight they got their wish.
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But the ZBA still strongly reaffirmed the right of the Building Commissioner to levy fines on the landlords for infractions that occur on their property. A message that will not be lost on other landlords in town.
Front Row: Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe, Jonathan O'Keeffe Planning Board, Alisa Brewer, Select Board rear seat front