Hearing postponed as Deerfield dairy farmer Stephen Melnik repairs house cited for violations
DEERFIELD — As local dairy farmer Stephen Melnik works to make a Mill Village Road house habitable, a court hearing scheduled for last Friday at the Western Division of Housing Court in Greenfield was continued to this Friday in an effort to resolve the situation without court intervention.
Deerfield Building Commissioner and Health Agent Richard Calisewski said he had a phone conversation with the long-time Deerfield farmer last Friday and was told Melnik is planning to make repairs to the major violations, including the heating system, smoke detectors, water and sanitary utilities.
He plans to have it habitable by the end of this week, Calisewski said last week. “I expect substantial progress on the house.”
Melnik, owner of the Bar-Way Farm on Mill Village Road, was the subject of legal action taken last week by two employees, Benito Andrade and Sonia Luna, who complained the 174 Mill Village Road home Melnik provided them did not meet state sanitary codes.
The couple began work on the farm last August, caring for cows and doing field work.
The pair filed a complaint in housing court, requesting a preliminary injunction against Melnik and his farm for alleged negligence, unfair or deceptive acts or practices in violation of the Consumer Protection Act, breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment and violation of the state sanitary code.
Peter Melnik, son of Stephen, said Thursday at Bar-Way Farm that the family did not want to comment.
John Connor, a lawyer from Stobierski and Stobierski law office in Greenfield, who is representing Melnik, said, “The Melniks are actively working to address the issues the town asked them to address.”
Connor added, “I don’t want to comment on ongoing litigation, but there were a number of things in the filings with the court that were not accurate.”
Connor said his client is still within the time frame the town gave him to make the repairs.
After an August home health inspection, the town cited the home for 47 violations and ordered the farmer to clean up the house by Oct. 4.
Problems included lack of potable water, raw human sewage in the basement due to a backup of the sewage system into the property, failure to provide a working toilet, lack of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, serious infestation of bees and rodents and issues with the roof, ceilings and walls.
The town is not condemning the house. In the workers’ complaint, their lawyer Jennifer Dieringer of Community Legal Aid in Northampton, claimed the town would condemn the single-family home last week.
“We were never condemning the house (last) week. I never said that at any point,” Calisewski said Thursday. He said there is no need to condemn the house as long as there are no occupants.
The house is vacant and as a result the urgent housing concerns have disappeared, Calisewski said. However, if Melnik wants tenants, he needs to make the repairs, he added.
Although the workers’ complaint indicated they were staying at the Red Roof Inn in South Deerfield, Calisewski said the couple is currently staying at the Rainbow Motel in Whately.
He said the couple is still working for Melnik.