Letter to the Editor – November 22

On November 22, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Developers Destroy Somerville Ward 4 Residents’ homes, ISD sitting on their hands

To the Editor,

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries and letters to the Editor of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

I say this without exaggeration: My home was seriously damaged by the developers at 400-406 Mystic Avenue, and I am not alone. We were forced out of our homes along with 2 other families, and other properties surrounding the construction site are also severely damaged. And Somerville Inspectional services won’t do a thing to protect us.

I live in a typical 3 unit Somerville home. The house, like most in Somerville, is 100 years old, and the properties are very close to each other. In the lot next to mine, a big developer came in looking to build a big multi-unit apartment complex that would have commercial space at the bottom. We were initially excited about the project, as we welcomed development in our area (Winter Hill) and we had seen the drawings online from meetings and the building looked like it was going to be great.

When they started building the foundation however, our house, and houses around the property were subject to insane vibrations, that were on the level of an earthquake. I was scared to be in the house during construction, but I figured the developers knew what they were doing. That was until myself and the other unit owners noticed that our foundation walls were now bowing and cracked, our basement floor was cracked and bulging a foot off of its normal ground, and there was cracking all up the walls of both common areas and in our individual units.

We started the process of asking ISD to investigate (they told us someone came out but we later found out no one actually did, they told us they wouldn’t do anything unless we had a structural engineer’s stamped report). Independently we had an engineer come look at the damage and we were told that our foundation was on the verge of imminent collapse. My husband and I, along with the second floor owners (who were 9 months pregnant) and the first floor residents (who have two newborn twins), were forced to leave our home in fear of it collapsing and us being hurt. We sent the report to the ISD as this is what they asked for in order to revoke the construction permit and they told us they wouldn’t pull the permit unless we could show that the developers caused the damage. We showed them pictures of the before situation we had from early 2017 of a basement that did not have the damage we were currently seeing, and our reports from mid 2015 when we purchased the unit that said our foundation was in good shape; this was not good enough to show cause according to ISD. So the impetus was on us, citizens of Somerville who pay taxes and own modest units, to pay for more engineers to come out and prove cause, instead of on the developers building a multi-million dollar building to show they did not cause the damage. We had another structural engineer come out to determine that the damage was in fact caused by the developer, sent in that signed PE report, and ISD still won’t pull the construction permit because they received a letter from the developers’ engineer (the engineer did not put the PE stamp on the letter, and the engineer never visited our house and saw the damage).

Luckily, we have the funds to have a lawyer pursue this matter, but we are not sure that our neighbors, who also have damage do. I think we need to get visibility on this issue, as it affects many Somerville families and is a clear case of the ISD not protecting the citizens, and instead caring for the interests of large developers. I invite you to come to my house to see the damage, speak to the neighbors surrounding this property about their damage, and read all reports that we have gathered to shed light on this so maybe this doesn’t happen to anyone else. The Boston metropolitan area is a developing one, and we can’t have developers ruining people’s homes and putting their lives at risk.

— Lynn Sargent
Somerville

 

4 Responses to “Letter to the Editor – November 22”

  1. CAP says:

    A terrible story. But unfortunately, only one out of many.

    This is typical Somerville practice. If a developer has an issue with residents, they go to City Hall to get it ‘fixed’. If they are old-boy Somerville, they may go directly to Joe or Stan Koty. If they’re just fat-cat State Street types, they will usually go to Michael Glavin instead. These guys will then make the call down to the respective office or board, and make it clear what they want. And the developer gets the permit, and the resident gets the see-ya-later.

    If residents have an issue with developers, the City doesn’t ‘fix’ that. Instead, residents are told that they will have to take their problems to court. At their expense. Rather than getting the taxpayer funded assistance from the City that the developers get lavished with. Of course, most residents aren’t in the position to do this, so this helps grease the rails for the developers even more.

    Besides specific ‘recommendations’ for specific projects, the people in the enforcement offices and boards already know that they are expected to deliver the goods for the developers. Any pushback or speaking up by these folks could mean their jobs. So there is already a go-along-to-get-along culture in place before the Mayor or Koty or Glavin make the call to put the fix in. These people have bills to pay and mortgages and kids. So the they do what “the Mayor wants” whether they think it’s sleazy or not.

    Good luck with your case Ms. Sargent. And be clear-eyed about the rigged system that you and your neighbors are up against.

  2. Old Taxpayer says:

    Clearly needs to go higher up the food chain out of the reach of the local politicians. Maybe Attorney General? Locally I would not expect any help. Maybe even a local news station for something like this. But they are definitely not alone in this kind of fight here.

  3. Getting the word out is to the media for coverage has been a struggle. These families have been displayed through absolutely no fault of their own and through absolute fault of the hands of this builder. Of which I will add the city authorized to build and continues to authorize them to construct at the cost of others homes and businesses. How is this ok? Why do these families have to bear weight of the financial burden of losing their property value and move out of their homes to a safe environment for fear their house may fall down on them. This is ludicrous. Where is the fixer or expose? Hey CBS, NBC, ABC. FOX News Pay Attention. There’s apparently a story that is shared by many folks in this city and you
    Can make a difference by running it!

  4. Displaced is the word not displayed.

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