Tillson engages West Lane allegationsComplaints of unlawful rentals in the affordable development
Building Official Marc Tillson drafted a letter to the West Side Homeowners Association Wednesday morning “reminding the owners those houses were created for 20 families to enjoy, not to create alleged basement apartments.”
Questions have arisen as to whether some of the homeowners have been acting in violation of the terms set up and agreed to for the affordable homes.
Tillson told the Block Island Times that several citizens have come to his office with complaints alleging that West Lane 20 homeowners are leasing out their homes and not living in them, that some of the homes contain basement apartments, and that other owners are renting out rooms.
Tillson said that while it is legal for homeowners to rent a room, they need to get a license to do so. However, it is not legal under the affordable development’s zoning approval to create additional dwelling units in them. Also, according to their mortgage agreements, leasing of the homes is prohibited, Tillson said.
Tillson said he has received no applications for permits to create apartments and no applications for licenses to rent out rooms.
“We’re on top of it,” Tillson added, stating that he hopes the homeowners association will deal with any problems.
Though permits and licenses are in the realm of the town’s Building Department, the mortgage agreements fall under the purview of Block Island Economic Development Corp., which planned and built the West Lane houses. Regarding violations, Taubman said, “We have only heard things by word of mouth and copies of a Craigslist ad and we have no right to inspect. We are concerned. Other people are waiting for houses...some have been waiting ten years. BIED has first right of refusal when there is owner turnover, which defines the way the houses are kept affordable. By leasing out the house or moving out and just keeping the semblance of a room, the owners are undermining this affordability system and creating opposition to new affordable housing development.”
Chair of the Housing Board Cindy Pappas commented on the violations as well: “The Housing Board along with members of the BIED board are exploring ways to work together on creating uniform policies and practices for existing housing developments.”