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Board of Health MeetingNovember 14, 2018
Meetings & Notices
City of North Adams
Board of Health
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Conference Room #202
ē Approval of Minutes (September 18, 2018)
ē David Valego (Request for Hearing Ė 84 Washington Avenue)
ē Charles Fox (Request for Hearing Ė 420 Curran Highway)
ē Public Hearing: 29 Dean Street, 180 Eagle Street & 487 Union Street
November 14, 2018
Members Present: John Meaney and Kevin Lamb
Absent: October Cellana
Others Present: Director Moore , William Meranti, Melissa Martin, Mark Bushee, Tammy Daniels (IBerkshires), David Valego, Charles Fox, Sara Crocker and Joshua Crocker
Chairman Meaney made a motion to accept and waive the reading of the minutes of the previous meeting, second by Member Lamb. Unanimous vote.
Request for Hearing: David Valego (84 Washington Avenue)
Mr. Valego requested coming before the board regarding the fine issued from the Department of Health for the sum of $41,150.00 on July 3, 2018. Director Moore began; we were notified from a tenant of Mr. Valego, she believed that there was cross metering and she was paying for another apartment. Upon an inspection, it was noticed that there was another apartment created without approval from the city which lead to the violation order. Mr. Valego presented copies of the Certificate of Compliance, building, electrical, gas permits, and plumbing permits. The building permit closed and finalized in January 2017 and the electrical permit in February. Mr. Valego informs he had a potential tenant come look at the apartment in March 2017 and wanted to move in but he informed them they could not until he was issued the Certificate of Compliance. His Certificate of Compliance was issued and dated April 10, 2017 by the former Health Inspector Valerie Board. Mr. Valego stated according to the Massachusetts State Code sec. 328, after issuing an occupancy permit, and doing the proper inspections, no change of use, he rented the apartment. Itís a four bedroom apartment, and you can occupy that premise. Since this, he has gone before the Planning and Zoning Boards for the change of use. The Zoning Board did approve the 3 apartments and there is a special meeting with the Planning Board scheduled. He has taken the steps and got his occupancy permit to satisfy the city and thinks the fine is extensive and not even legal. Director Meranti follow up by saying, the permits were for the construction or reconstruction of the two apartment house. The downstairs was one apartment. When this issue arose, the downstairs apartment had been split in two and thatís where the cross metering complaint came from. There were tenants in both sides of the apartment, which has a certificate for a portion of the apartment. Unfortunately, it was during a time between health inspectors who was not aware of the configuration of that building. When we were called there, he (Director Meranti) immediately noticed there was another apartment being occupied for nearly a year without permits for the division, permission from the Planning which requires a special permit for that zone. At that time the fine was issued. It is a very large fine and there is no objection if the board wants to reduce it. However, itís simple math, $50 for the first offence and subsequently $100 each day after. Since the fine was issued, Mr. Valego has applied to the Planning Board for a special permit and the Zoning Board. Tonightís hearing is about the renting of that apartment without a CC for x # of days. The permits that Mr. Valego is pertaining to are the two family home not the three family home it is today, commented Director Meranti. Mr. Valego replied that the owner of the building should not get penalized at this magnitude when he got the occupancy permit. The inspector at the time of the inspection did not know what was going on and he should not be held responsible claims Mr. Valego and should not be penalized with this hefty fine. He had her come in, do the inspection and investigation; he received the cc on a four bedroom apartment. And from where Mr. Valego comes from it is common to rent bedrooms especially near a college. He doesnít think he did anything wrong and when he was informed of the issue it has been vacant for 6 or 7 months. This has affected Mr. Valego financially and canít afford to pay the fine in this amount, and he doesnít want to be penalized for the person who did not do a thorough investigation to satisfy the building inspector. Chairman Meaney asks Director Moore if he has anything else to add. Director Moore replied like Mr. Meranti stated, the math is the math, it is a valid inspection among all this confusion. If itís the boardís decision to lower the fine, it is fine by the city and by him. Just for clarification, commented member Lamb, the downstairs apartment was modified after the cc was issued. Mr. Valego provides emails from the tenants after the cc was issued. They are not going to rent a four bedroom and then now itís a one bedroom apartment. The only modification that was done claims Mr. Valego was in between the door which we framed a doorway that gives people privacy. Building Code sec. 3-6 Ordinary Repairs, you do not need a building permit or permission from the building inspector unless itís a structural wall. He pulled permits for all the others and did not think he was required to pull another permit. According to the building code, it appears no permit is required. Director Meranti commented that we are still avoiding the fact that there are two apartments out of one, it wasnít bedrooms,, it was two separate apartments with two separate tenants and it was the tenants that came to us with the complaints. No matter how you look at it, one of those apartments did not have a cc. We are only trying to rectify this and if he wants a three family home and the board approved it that thatís fine if the gas, heat and electrical issues are corrected. Or, if Mr. Valego wanted to rent it two months ago, he could have undone the work that he did that would have been fine with the city also. That fine is legitimate and those tenants complained, thatís how we got there. Mistakes happen and she did not realize this was not supposed to be like that states Director Meranti. Mr. Valego at this time presents a property field card to the board which states how many apartments and bedrooms, if they are going to do an investigation or inspection that would be the first thing to get the field card, it is the city that verifies the information and when I receive an occupancy permit, I am assuming that they did their due diligence and I can rent it out. Director Meranti commented both apartments, Mr. Valego replied itís a four bedroom apartment with no cross metering, all electrical is updated, heat is separate and all has been inspected by the different departments. Mr. Meranti replied he was hoping that this would not become adversarial, but thatís not the truth. The truth is that you Mr. Valego did not separate the electrical, the heat, you created two apartments and rented to two separate people with two separate leases, thatís the reality and whether the fine is legitimate or not, I will leave it up to the board. Mr. Valego stated if there is no report of cross metering then that should not be considered. All the inspectors were there and did their inspections and no work has been done after the inspections. If they issued the certificate then I rented the apartment. Keep in mind that it has been empty for seven months because of the request of the city. I am not trying to do something that is illegal replied Mr. Valego. Chairman Meaney informed Mr. Valego that they would take this under advisement and asked if there were any pictures of the cross metering or any proof of that? We have no information from the Plumbing and Gas Inspector or from the Electrical Inspector on file mentioned Director Moore. The electrical permit is dated 2/24/2017 with an upgraded service; the heat is electric stated Mr. Valego, heat and hot water on the ownerís panel. Copies are presented to the board. Chairman Meaney mentioned to Mr. Valego that the board would get back in touch with him with a letter with the results. The board thanks Mr. Valego.
Request for Hearing: Charles Fox (420 Curran Highway)
Mr. Fox appeared before the board because of the violation notice he received, he is one of two of the owners. They bought the building at a foreclosure sale; it has been a long struggle with that property over the past ten years. He has a few tenants to make a little money; one tenant is a notorious pack rat, Jeromy Perry. He has storage areas around the city and Mr. Fox was unaware of the issues. He had rented the inside of the Metro dome building to Mr. Perry to work on cars and very quickly discovered he had multitudes of cars around the building which I addressed immediately even trying to evict him through the courts but canít get rid of him. He has a court order but has been unsuccessful. Mr. Fox reads to the board the history of text messages to Mr. Perry from the last three months regarding the vehicles and debris on the property. They removed the dumpster because people were just dumping. Mr. Fox even agreed to pay Mr. Perry to remove the wood that had just showed up one day. On another day, Mr. Fox informed Mr. Perry that he would be towing the vehicles that weekend. The next day, the vehicles had seemed to disappear. At that time, Mr. Fox reached out to Mr. Meranti to tag more vehicles and mentioned the cleanup, Mr. Meranti asked Mr. Fox to look in the Metra dome, where he had relocated the vehicles from the property to the inside of the building. Again, Mr. Fox informed Mr. Perry that the vehicles were going to be towed per city ordinance. Still more time had gone by with no progress. Mr. Fox had even made arrangements to sell some vehicles for Mr. Perry. There has been some progress made on the property. Mr. Fox informed the board that he was annoyed with the ďorderĒ issued by the city to remove by a certain date or he would be fined, he thought it was unfair because he had initiated first with Mr. Meranti. Mr. Fox askes the board to give him more time to rectify this issue. Mr. Moore agrees that there has been some considerable about of effort shown. As far as the violation, it is a matter of having documentation and that the city is aware of the issues. Chairman Meaney asked if he was there working on things, both Mr. Fox and Mr. Moore replied no, he just stores things at the property. Mr. Moore presents photos of the site to the board. Director Meranti replies he feels for Mr. Fox because he (Meranti) has dealt with the tenant and the family over the years with the city. However, this is private property and he is your tenant and it is ultimately your responsibility to clean up your property. Director Meranti mentioned that possibly Wittig could help with the cleanup with an expense to Mr. Fox. I donít know how you would police the property replied Director Meranti, this is a problem that has developed over the years. He continues saying that the tenant is very difficult to deal with and if the board gives a certain amount of time for cleanup that is fine. Chairman Meaney asked what would be a reason amount of time for cleaning up the lot, because as the property owner, you are responsible and a plan for no more dumping. Mr. Fox states the middle of December however the board agreed on having the site cleaned by the first of the year before snow. Mr. Fox agreed that this time would be very helpful. Mr. Fox mentioned that possibly installing a chain at the entrance of the property so that people canít access the property and dump or use concrete barrier. Chairman Meaney stated that the inspectors will go out on site to follow up and that Mr. Fox will be receiving a letter.
Reports: Code Enforcement & Inspection Services
61 Ė Total CCs Issued since last meeting
31 Ė Restaurants / Foodservice Inspections
24 Ė Housing Inspections
487 Union Street
180 Eagle Street
29 Dean Street
(2) New food service establishments / Wigwam Western Summit & Ashland Parlor
Both have limited menus with limited kitchen facilities
Director Moore has completed the NEIWPCC course to be a MADEP authorized Soil Evaluator. This training was essential to assure determination of seasonal high ground water for septic systems during percolation tests.
The next meeting will be January 16, 2019
Meeting adjourned at 5:25pm.
Melissa J. Martin
Cc Mayor Thomas Bernard
Cc City Clerks