Three-year Amnesty Approved for Illegal Landlords

2014 Falmouth town meeting.
GENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE - 2014 Falmouth town meeting.

Town meeting members voted 144 to 60 to approve a three-year amnesty for homeowners who have existing multi-family or accessory apartments that are not currently permitted. The units must have been in existence since 1994 without a lapse or two years or more.

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“By offering an amnesty it gives the homeowners a chance to have the apartments become legal where they currently may not meet some of the requirements in the zoning bylaw,” said Kevin P. Klauer, a Falmouth attorney and one of the article’s petitioners. Planning Board chairman Patricia H. Kerfoot echoed Mr. Klauer’s sentiments, saying the amended by-law will provide affordable, legal and safe housing.

Other supporters of the measure spoke emotionally about how the measure would increase safety for lower income residents.

“This would help. Please think of safety first,” said Linda D. Whitehead, Precinct One. “I met plenty of children who lived in these unsafe apartments. I estimate most landlords won’t come forward because of the cost with bringing it up to code, but we should give them the opportunity,” she added.

Precinct Six member Brenda B. Swain said she “is concerned about the safety of the units for low income residents” and encouraged a yes vote.

Dana K. Smith of Precinct Six opposed the passage of the article, saying its language is too complicated and “there’s probably a lot of loopholes.

Margaret A. Finnell, Precinct Eight, said the measure would be a burden on the town’s resources.

“The planning board agreed to monitor this,” said Ms. Kerfoot. “It’s only for three years. We don’t anticipate a stampede of landlords,” she said. 

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