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Board of Health MeetingJuly 18, 2018
Meetings & Notices
City of North Adams
Board of Health
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Conference Room #202
• Approval of Minutes (May 16, 2018)
• Charles Ransford (Request for hearing – 14B Spring Street Violation)
• Louis Matney (505 West Main Street)
• Condemnations: 180 Eagle Street & 487 Union Street
July 18, 2018
Members Present: John Meaney & Kevin Lamb
Absent: October Cellana, William Meranti, & Mark Bushee
Others Present: Director Moore , Melissa Martin, Charles Ransford & Tammy Daniels (IBerkshires)
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 (14 B Spring Street / Charles Ransford owner)
Chairman Meaney confirms this is regarding 14 B Spring Street, Mr. Ransford replied its 14 (1) Spring Street. Director Moore corrected Mr. Ransford, its 14 B, 14 (1) is a separate issue. Director informed the board that an inspection was conducted on 2/16/18 and did not pass because of violations; Mr. Ransford was informed at that time. (See attached copy of violations) Although the document reads 12 Spring, 14B, this is the violation. The department found out a month later that this apartment was occupied without a certificate of compliance. Mr. Ransford was notified that he needs a passing CC for this apartment. He was informed at that time he will be receiving notice of violations and will be fined. The notice was mailed out and Mr. Ransford appealed. Chairman Meaney inquired about what the violation was, Director Moore replied there was no passing inspection and occupied without passing. Director Moore asks why Mr. Ranford is appealing. Mr. Ransford stated that the amount of the fine is ridiculous; I don’t mind paying a fine because I am guilty of renting without a CC. The violations are all minor, have been corrected but did not have the re-inspection. Mr. Ransford claims he did have a CC, but he did not. Director Moore mentioned that they could have verbally worked out an acceptable fine but he (Mr. Ransford ) choose to appeal because the it’s an unacceptable fine that Mr. Ransford is unwilling to pay. Director Moore replied he was fined the mount the city allows. $50 per day is excessive stated Mr. Ransford, but that is how the ordinance is written and the fine calculated. Mr. Ransford stated that he is a real proponent for these certificates and is the best insurance you can buy. For the most part, Mr. Ransford has scheduled his inspections, but can’t set precedence and say that’s fine to occupy without a passing CC, because we have other landlords. Mr. Ransford again stated he did not mind paying fine but this calculated fine is ridiculous. Director Moore asks Mr. Ransford what level of fine would be fair. Director Moore mentioned 14 (1) Spring Street is finable also. Mr. Ransford claims he took care of the things that needed to be done, but just did not call for an inspection. He claims responsibility just like 14 B Spring Street for not obtaining the CC. Again, Mr. Ransford claims that we did an inspection and passed the apartment. The tenant has since moved out but things needed to be done in the apartment before he schedules an inspection. Mr. Ransford is willing to pay a $50 fine because of his error, but doesn’t really want to pay the $2,350. Director Moore replies the ordinance is written at $50 per day for the first offence and $100 per day for each day it is in violation, constitutes a separate offence. Director Moore replied that $50 was not significant enough for the length of violations at 24 days. Both Director Moore and Chairman Meaney commented that $500 was fair. Mr. Ransford replied, we’ll go to court for $500. That is not reasonable claims Mr. Ransford. Chairman Meaney stated because of the length of the violation and Director Moore stated that this is not Mr. Ransford’s first one. Director Moore proposes $500 Chairman Meaney was going to put a motion on the floor for $500. Mr. Ransford stated he would pay a $100 fine but not $500. Member Lamb also stated that this fine at a reduction is reasonable. Mr. Moore replied to Mr. Ransford, that anyone that attended the meeting was not around when the ordinance was written and he has to enforce it. Mr. Ransford replied that it is draconian. Chairman Meaney asked Director Moore if he was going to do up another letter and Mr. Ransford can do what he wants with the letter. Mr. Ransford can initiate the court for a reduction or he cannot pay it and we (City) can take him to court. On another note, Mr. Ransford informs the board the electric and gas has to be on. Generally the electric company will leave the electric on until such time it’s changed over. The Gas Co on the other hand will shut the gas off until the new tenant has rented. So in order to have a CC, he has to put the gas on in his name. but tries to ask the tenant to have it turned on before they move in. Sometime the gas isn’t turned on til 1-2 days after they want to move in. Director Moore mentioned that at the time of the inspection we have to make sure the hot water, heat and check safety features that are run off the electric. Without having the gas and electric on, we have no way of making sure they are in proper working order. Mr. Ransford claims if the gas is not working properly, they won’t be turned on. It is not necessarily my or the boards problem how you come in to compliance. Don’t have the gas shut off, just put it in your name and change names when the tenants move in, and in the interim you have an inspection done. A lot of times the apartments get rented before they are done over stated Mr. Ransford. Director Moore asks Mr. Ransford what is the issue? Chairman Meaney replied the timing and Mr. Ransford agreed. Chairman Meaney stated that he understands but there is nothing we can do to change this. Ok, the tenant doesn’t get the gas turned on until the day after they move in asks Mr. Ransford and Director Moore doesn’t get there for a few days then I (Mr. Ransford) will be fined? Chairman Meaney stated that the tenants should not be allowed in the apartment until it’s all set. There are circumstances sometimes at the end of the month when the tenants have to be out of a place and into another one. Either I get a fine or the tenants have to put their stuff in storage. Mr. Ransford is looking for leniency. Chairman Meaney replied we cannot do that. Member Lamb inquired that unless the Gas Co can certify it’s in working order. They generally only test boilers before they turn on the gas replied Director Moore. If there is a problem, they will red tag it until its fixed. So if something happens to a hot water tank and the gas co comes and red tags it, you will condemn the apartment asks Mr. Ransford. Director Moore replied yes. He understands what the law says but with most laws there are usually areas of gray somewhere that as an inspector you should be able to bend a little bit and cannot be totally rigid mentions Mr. Ransford. There would be an opportunity for you to get someone there and fix it. Mr. Ransford stated the Mr. Moore enforces the law right to the letter and are not willing to bend. Director Moore stated that he wanted to send a message because he gets a lot of calls from his tenants because you have a lot of tenants and when he come across a violation he is not going to look away for anybody. Until you develop common sence with the law it’s going to be very difficult with tenants stated Mr. Ransford to Mr. Moore. To Mr. Ransford from Director Moore, so you are telling me not to enforce the rules for which I have been hired to enforce. Mr. Ransford did not say that, he claims. However, he did say the director should be able to bend the rules somewhat. A lot of other landlords have the same concerns and not that he’s in front of the board, he ask.
Mr. Ransford mentions that he puts out a reasonably good product at a reasonably rent with a lot of low income people. Chairman Meaney stated that this will be taken under advisement. Mr. Ransford stated to Director Moore that he tries not to call him for enforcement issues. Chairman Meaney makes a motion to decrease the fine to $500 and second by Member Lamb. Unanimous vote.
Following up from the May meeting, Louis Matney (505 West Main St) was given two months to regain ownership of his father’s property. Mr. Matney indicated that he would be attending and be giving us a progress report. Director Moore informed the board that he was making progress, and working with Altisource. Director Moore stated he will call Mr. Matney but recommends no further action at this time.
Condemnations @ 180 Eagle Street & 457 Union Street won’t be officially condemned until next meeting.
44 – Total CCs Issued since 05/16/2018
52 – Kitchen & Restaurant Inspections
Includes 15 Retail only Food Permit Holders – Previously not in rotation for inspections
4 – New food trucks (3 Ready to go; 1 pre-operational)
4 – New Restaurants (2 Ready to go; 2 pre-operational)
2 – Multi-vendor Temp. Food Events @ MoCA (6/29 & 7/12)
31 – ‘Other’ Inspections
2 – Camp Inspections – YMCA & Mass MoCA
6 – Pool Inspections – YMCA, Porches, Wheel Estates, Tourists, Holiday Inn, MoCA, Franklin Ct.
180 Eagle – Had a report of possible location of rodent nests in cellar from neighbors. Property is abandoned. Letter sent out notifying state of emergency condemnation. Certified mail has been signed for. Waiting for response/request for public hearing.
487 Union – Report of water in basement from gas company. Property is abandoned. Letter sent out notifying state of emergency condemnation. Certified mail returned. Will post notice for public hearing for next meeting.
Three Title 5 inspection witness – One repair permit issued.
Met with potential candidate to become receiver. Jon Kaledin (bio attached) interested in 116 Church St. Atty General is doing their background checks on him currently.
Shelter Exercise on 7/26.
Michael attended MDPH seminar on MA Dept. Labor Standards & OSHA Enforcement as pertains to Health Department Agents + New tobacco trends & public education efforts.
The next meeting will be September 19, 2018.
Meeting adjourned at 5:00pm.
Melissa J. Martin
Cc Mayor Thomas Bernard