Fall River condemns another apartment complex
FALL RIVER, Mass. —
The city of Fall River forces yet another city rental property is forced to shut down after more than a half dozen city inspectors find dozens of health and code violations.
On Friday evening the Fall River Licensing Board voted unanimously in favor of revoking the 'Boarding License' for a second troubled Fall River property owned by the same out of town landlord; David Colville of Weymouth.
That means all 17 of the residents who live there, many of whom have mental health issues, criminal records or substance abuse problems, will be evicted, and out of luck.
But the licensing board chair was quick to point out that it's not the tenants who have caused the city to make the drastic move.
Instead, the Mayor and Licensing Board members agree, it's the electrical, fire and health code hazards that exist at the massive Pine Street house, and the half million dollars in back owed taxes on the two properties combined, that have the city of Fall River saying 'enough is enough.'
At one point during the special hearing of the licensing board held on Friday, Board Member Eric Santos called the conditions of the property, 'shameful' while the Board Chair John Saulino added that he 'couldn't believe that anyone would have to live like that.'
Dennis Gosselin is a resident at the 372 Pine Street property owned by Colville.
Referring to the property owner, he told NBC10, "He's a slum landlord, as far as I'm concerned."
When asked what he thinks about David Colville Gosselin said, "I can't say it on camera, so."
The Fall River city solicitor said that, based on the investigation into the matter, the city 'Doesn't believe Mr. Colville is capable of fixing all of the issues that need to be fixed," after Colville's attorney requested a stay on the revocation with the promise that the owner would address the problems quickly.
City officials agree with the residents of the Pine Street property when they say it's dangerous, unsanitary and downright gross.
Gosselin said, "Bed bugs and cockroaches. That's what's in the building. The bathrooms are unsanitary, and there's only one bathroom that's working for all of these gentleman, you know, that live here, I don't think it's right."
This is by no means the first time Colville has been in the hot seat over one of his local rental units.
Several weeks ago the city shut down the two apartment buildings at 265 and 267 County Street and several dozen people, including many small children, were evicted immediately, given only an hour to vacate the property.
The city of Fall River did provide housing at the Swansea Motel for a while, but the residents who had lived there are still struggling to get by.
And the common denominator of the two properties? They're both owned by the same person: David Colville, a man who not only refuses to speak to the press, but who also won't talk to the very board that held his fate in its hands.
Board Chair John Saulino said the fact that Colville failed to even appear at the hearing contributed to the board's unanimous vote in favor of revoking Colville's license, and shut the second building once and for all.
Mark Azar is Colville's attorney.
Although he did speak on the property owner's behalf, he would not talk with NBC10.
One woman who came to witness the hearing identified herself as a local property owner with a home near the Pine Street home.
She showed NBC10 a list of 54 Fall River Police calls officers responded to in just the last seven months.
Just before she showcased that document, the city cited dozens of code violations, but Azar, Colville's lawyer claimed, "This is the first time he's hearing about all of these problems with the property as far as that's concerned."
Either way, the licensing board's decision is final.
The building will be shut down next Friday.
Saulino stopped to speak with NBC10 briefly after the meeting, he said, "It's not a reflection on the tenants, it's a reflection on the management."
Ricardo Lopes lives at the Pine Street rooming house that will soon be shut down.
He said, "They mayor gave me a card yesterday and told me to go down to his office Monday, supposedly they're supposed to give us help."
When NBC10 reminded him that the assistance would only be temporary, and asked what he would do after that he said, "Who knows? One day at a time."
The house at 372 Pine Street will be officially shut down for occupancy at midnight on July 19th.
Mayor William Flanagan and board officials say that way, the tenants will have a few days to relocate.
The city does have plans to help the residents with some temporary housing and services.