Neighbors’ concerns about recent construction work that would allegedly create nine apartments in a home at 8 Riverview Circle were voiced at a recent Hyde Park Town Board meeting.
Town Supervisor Aileen Rohr began the March 10 meeting by opening the floor to comments from the audience. Six Riverview Circle residents presented a petition and spoke about concerns they have about a home in the neighborhood, located at the southern end of Hyde Park. The home, they said, was sold recently and turned into a rental for college students, who moved in last month.
Ronald Hicks, who lives across the street from 8 Riverview Circle, said he believes that after the house was sold, it was rented out to five college students, while residents were told that the owner of the home planned on renting rooms to a total of nine students. According to Hicks, the owner is currently in the process of building additional bedrooms to house the extra students.
However, Simon Magaamas, the owner of 8 Riverview Circle, told the Observer that there are four students now living in the house and that he plans to have six or seven living there eventually.
Neighbor Catherine Van Orden compared the construction to the process she had to go through to get a deck added on her home. “The permits I had to get, I had to go to Hyde Park Historical Riverfront Property; all of the neighbors got a letter. We didn’t get a letter [about this rental construction]…It took me two years just to start the [deck construction] process,” she told the board, adding, “It should be done the right way.”
Rohr said that the issue of the construction had been brought to the town’s building inspector and said in this case, “[The rental owner] didn’t follow the process.”
She added that after the town became aware of the situation, “[the building inspector] did an immediate investigation and an order to remedy/violation was issued with a cease-and-desist work order.”
The owner of the rental home was also given an application for a building permit package, Rohr said, which includes the submission of plans so relevant changes could be verified against code.
As of April 4, however, the town building department could not confirm that it had received a permit application from Magaamas. Zoning Administrator Kathleen Moss added that since the construction already had begun on the rental, the fee for the building permit would double.
But Magaamas told the Observer on March 27 that he expected to have the permits within a week and is waiting on the permit to start construction. Afterward, he could not be reached for further comment.
Deborah Risi, who lives next door to the rental with her 84-year-old aunt, said her biggest concern is water use. “We have a well, they have a well. We have a septic, they have a septic. There are nine students moving in, that could possibly be 18 showers a day. That’s a lot of water, that’s a lot of septic,” Risi said.
All the neighborhood concerns appear to focus on the number of tenants in the rental, which is why the neighbors’ petition asked that the town put a cap of five on the number of unrelated individuals allowed in one rental.
Moss told the Observer she is not aware of a limit on the number of rentals allowed within one home and that the only restriction in terms of rentals is on the number of kitchens allowed within one home, and that would depend on whether it was a two- or three-family space.
The neighbors’ petition also suggests that “owners of one-family and/or two-family non-owner occupied dwellings rented or leased” within the town obtain a rental registry certificate every two years from the town in order to collect information important to town, police and fire officials.
In response to this request, Rohr warned that there are “constitutional limitations” in terms of what laws can be set by the board.
“Laws that restrict the number of occupants have been challenged through the Supreme Court and case law indicates that the laws meet certain defined parameters for the law to pass muster,” she later told the Observer.