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Presidential Apartments, Amherst reach agreement

  • Presidential Apartments Carol Lollis



Staff Writer
Friday, November 10, 2017

AMHERST — An apartment complex owner and the town’s building commissioner have reached a deal that will ensure low- and moderate-income residents will soon have homes at Presidential Apartments.

The compliance agreement, signed Thursday by Allen Cohn of Presidential Development Co. of West Hartford and Building Commissioner Rob Morra, sets a series of dates by which six apartments will be available, and strategies for compensating those who were supposed to have moved in to the North Pleasant Street complex by Sept. 1.

Under the arrangement, provided in an email from Amherst attorney Thomas Reidy of Bacon Wilson, LP, who represents Cohn, Presidential made a one-bedroom apartment available Tuesday, and will make the next one-bedroom apartments available on Dec. 15 and Dec. 17. The first two-bedroom apartment will be ready for occupancy Dec. 15, with the second two-bedroom apartment available Dec. 21.

A three-bedroom apartment will become available “as soon as possible, but not later than Feb. 28, 2018.” But the agreement stipulates if there is good cause for not having a three bedroom available, then a two-bedroom apartment will be in its place until a three bedroom is ready on or before Sept. 1.

A special permit issued by the Zoning Board in 2013 allowed Presidential to build 54 new units for 96 tenants that opened in fall 2015. The developer earlier this year entered into an agreement with the Select Board to provide six affordable apartments, ensuring they will count toward the town’s Subsidized Housing Inventory, and also arranged for the Amherst Housing Authority to hold a lottery to select individuals and families.

The compliance agreement prompted Reidy to drop an appeal of a notice of violation that Morra issued Sept. 18, in which he gave the developer a month to resolve the lack of affordable housing before $600 per day in fines started to accrue Oct. 18. That appeal, which sought a delay until Feb. 18, had been scheduled to be heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals Thursday.

Six “low rent” apartments are supposed to be for people with a maximum income limit of 80 percent of the area median income. These guidelines mean for one person the income can’t exceed $44,800, for two person $51,200, for three person $57,600 and for four person $64,000.

For a one-bedroom apartment, the rent would be $824 per month for heat and hot water, about $250 less per month than market rate apartments. For two bedrooms, the rent would be $1,016 for heat and hot water, approximately $500 less per month, and for the three-bedroom units, with just hot water, $1,142, or about $800 less per month.

Because most tenants will not be able to move in for a few weeks, the agreement gives those who qualify through the lottery the option, while waiting, to have Presidential locate suitable replacement housing, with Presidential paying a portion of the rent, or to have Presidential pay for a portion of the rent that will allow individuals or families to stay at their current homes

The agreement spells out the terms for how soon those selected through the lottery will be notified they have successfully passed the credit check and references. Presidential is also offering relocation costs, with the invoices of those costs to be presented to Kamins Realty.

Finally, the agreement guarantees that Presidential will pay the financial penalties to the town within 14 days, as well as additional daily fines.

Northampton attorney Michael Pill of Green Miles Lipton LLP, who was at Thursday’s meeting, said the withdrawal of the appeal by Reidy was sensible.

“I told him I thought he had done the right thing, and the smart thing,” Pill said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.