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Charlemont condemnation hearing continued

Recorder/Paul Franz
This building, located at 122 Main St. in Charlemont Center will be the subject of a condemnation hearing tonight.

Recorder/Paul Franz This building, located at 122 Main St. in Charlemont Center will be the subject of a condemnation hearing tonight.

CHARLEMONT — The Board of Health has decided to hold off on any decision to condemn the apartment complex at 122 Main St. until it can thoroughly inspect the building.

It has continued its hearing on the matter until April 24.

Building manager James Greelish of Fitchburg came to the hearing with a list of roughly $55,000 worth of repairs he said have been made to the building since June of 2011.

He said the well head for the apartment building’s water supply has been found and that the water quality is being tested monthly. He also said he has signed a consent order from the Department of Environmental Protection outlining deadlines for water system improvements, along with either a secondary water source or storage tank.

Greelish also produced a letter from Rich Charette, a 21-year building resident, who praised Greelish for “making things happen like I’ve never seen here.”

“He has the ambition and the resources to achieve a nice dwelling,” wrote Charette. “Let’s not let the previous landlords’ negligence decide our displacement. ... Please give a little time and he will address all issues.”

But Health Agent Glen Ayers and Board of Health members pointed out that this was the third condemnation hearing regarding the building since 2011, and that there had not been follow-up inspections to indicate those problems were taken care of.

Ayers handed out copies of inspection reports and past findings that either specific apartments or sections of the building were “unfit for human habitation,” due to extensive mold, lack of smoke alarms, fire and carbon monoxide detectors, roof, foundation and structural issues. He said the building came to his attention after Tropical Storm Irene, when a tenant called for an inspection.

Ayers said code violations should be fixed within 30 days, as stated on the orders.

“As of Jan. 3, there was no well permit, no re-inspection and no letter of compliance issued for the property,” said Ayers. “The timeline has gone on well beyond what’s reasonable.”

Greelish represents the current building owner, Bayview Loan Servicing of Coral Gables, Fla. He told the board that he has a buyer for the building, who is willing to spend an additional $100,000 for improvements. He said the prospective buyer is waiting to learn the outcome of the condemnation hearing before deciding whether to go forward with the sale.

Board of Health Chairman Robert Lingle acknowledged that the building was deteriorating before Bayview acquired it, through a foreclosure process. “I know there is a real serious mold problem, given the age of the building, that might not be fixable,” said Lingle.

Greelish said two commercial dehumidifiers have been installed to address building moisture. Also, some plumbing leaks have been fixed and roof repairs have been made. Some apartment flooring has also been replaced.

He asked the health board to re-inspect the property before voting to condemn it, and the board set conditions before agreeing.

First, they want to be able to inspect the entire building, including the occupied units. Second, they want the building inspector, health agent and members of the 122 Main Street Advisory Committee to be able to come along on the inspection.

“We would want to make sure that everything ordered by the Board of Health and Building Inspector’s Office (in past violation notices) has been corrected,” said Ayers. “We also made an agreement that no more tenants would be added until we have an order of compliance and a certificate of inspection.”

“We are trying to be as fair as possible,” said Lingle. “But there are people living there, and we don’t know if they’re living in healthy units.”

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
dbronc@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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