Judge puts house into receivership

  • 237 Conway St. in Greenfield STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • 237 Conway St. in Greenfield STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/10/2020 3:49:53 PM

GREENFIELD – The Conway Street house at the center of a legal battle between its owner and the city’s health department has been put into receivership.

Western Housing Court Judge Robert G. Fields appointed Anthony Witman, of Witman Properties of Holyoke, as property manager of 237 Conway St. and tasked him with collecting tenants’ rent and ensuring all necessary repairs are made, Greenfield Health Director Valerie Bird explained. 

The house, cited by the city for safety violations, has been entwined in the court system since late last year. Owner Douglas Sky Wight had been ordered to make various improvements to the property he has owned since May 2015.

Bird said Witman is expected to help clean up the residence and rectify any code violations. She said Witman is to present a plan to the housing court in a couple of weeks on what specifically needs to be done and how much time it will take.

“Doug is essentially a tenant now,” she said.

Wight said he feels the decision is unfair, as he has made 40 improvements to the property since he became owner.

“I’m going to comply 100 percent. I’ll just to do everything they tell me to do,” he said. “Some of it is just ridiculous. It’s like it’s not your own property. But what are you going to do?”

At one point, two people were living in the attic at 237 Conway St. and Greenfield Building Inspector Mark Snow sent Wight a cease-and-desist letter in October 2019 informing him the attic was not approved for living or sleeping, and the two tenants living there could no longer stay. In early December, Fields ordered Wight to pay to lodge the attic tenants in a hotel or motel with cooking facilities until the repairs were made. This order was made a few more times in the following months. Bird said those tenants no longer live in Wight’s house.

Ten people were living in the residence at one point, though only four unrelated people can legally live in a single-family dwelling in the Urban Residential zoning district, according to the health department. In December, Fields told Wight he had improperly converted his single-family dwelling into a boarding house and it must be brought into compliance with the law. He said attic tenants were not guests, as they were contracted to pay rent.

Wight previously told The Greenfield Recorder he rents out rooms to the poor and homeless because he wants to help them. He said he is an advocate for the poor because he lived out of the back of a pickup truck for 10 years. He has also said the regulation restricting dwelling occupancy to four unrelated people or unlimited blood relatives is outdated.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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