Town Ensures Apartments Will Be Available and Affordable
Presidential Apartments Owner Complying with Agreement and Pays Fines
Town of Amherst Building Commissioner Rob Morra reached a stipulated agreement with the owner of Presidential Apartments that will ensure that the required number of six units become available to qualified renters on an agreed-upon schedule. Presidential will also be required to take steps to ensure this situation does not repeat itself and will pay a significant fine.
Presidential Apartments had appealed the Building Commissioner’s September 18th Notice of Violation to the Zoning Board of Appeals. However, at the hearing Presidential Apartments requested the Zoning Board of Appeals accept their request to withdraw its appeal of the Building Commissioner’s decision after reaching an agreement with the Building Commissioner. They stated that the owner of Presidential takes his responsibility to provide affordable housing seriously and apologized – “especially to the prospective tenants of Presidential Apartments” - for the situation.
Under the agreement with the Building Commissioner, Presidential Apartments will:
- Make 5 of 6 units available in the next 6 weeks;
- Institute better procedures for communicating and notifying prospective tenants;
- Provide assistance to lottery winners until their units are available;
- Resolve issues and improve its working relationship with the Amherst Housing Authority;
- Pay all accrued fines within 14 days;
- Continue payment of daily fines within 21 days of citation until the violation is resolved to the satisfaction of the Building Commissioner.
- Provide better communication and documentation to the Building Commissioner upon request;
- Respond to and satisfy matters with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.
Town Manager Paul Bockelman applauded the agreement, stating “The Town swiftly took steps and crafted an effective approach necessary to ensure that the affordable housing units would become available to eligible renters as soon as practicable.” As background, he noted, “The owner of Presidential Apartments received permission from the Zoning Board of Appeals to construct 54 additional dwelling units and, as a condition of that approval, the owner agreed to dedicate six units for rental to low- or moderate-income households. I am pleased that they are living up to this requirement.”
Building Commissioner Morra has reported that Presidential is acting quickly by making two units available in November and by providing documentation showing that all six of the designated affordable units will be available by December 21, 2017. In addition, Presidential has further shown compliance with the agreement by securing temporary housing for lottery winners and taking care of their relocation costs.
To date the Building Commissioner has issued fines to Presidential totaling $16,900.