Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Units in one of three buildings at the former Saint John’s Roman Catholic school at Yerxa Road and Rindge Avenue are being leased illegally. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Residents at 45-47 Yerxa Road didn’t know they weren’t allowed to live there, and on Wednesday they remained ignorant that a case was headed to court that could uproot them from their homes.

It was confirmed Wednesday by Ranjit Singanayagam, the city’s building commissioner and commissioner of Inspectional Services, that the 2.2-acre property, which wraps around in a shape of an L to 124 Rindge Avenue, has never been granted a certificate of occupancy.

Despite that, units in the former Saint John’s Roman Catholic school are being leased in one building while the others are under construction, and some half-dozen units already have occupants. One resident said she moved in April 15 — nearly a year ago.

“We went there last month after complaints from neighbors and saw people living there,” Singanayagam said. As a result, owner Joseph F. Perroncello has been cited and a court date set for next month. The city, through attorney Joseph Amoroso, is trying to get the date moved up to get the situation resolved faster, Singanayagam said. A punishment is up to the judge.

Amoroso is out of town through Monday, Singanayagam said.

The property owner’s lawyer, James Rafferty, was called Wednesday for comment.

Neighbors’ other complaints have been corrected, Singanayagam said. In a policy order brought forward by city councillor Craig Kelley at Monday’s council meeting, there was a list:

The developer does not keep the site suitably clean, that work is done outside of permitted hours, that water has started leaking into neighboring foundations and that they are being deprived of quiet enjoyment of their own properties because the adjacent development is being so poorly managed by the developer so as to make their own lives very difficult.

The city manager has been asked to look into the charges, ensure the maximum fines possible are being levied and “is requested to ensure that no one is living in buildings that do not have occupancy permits at the Saint John’s site.”

“The project has challenges,” Rafferty conceded at the meeting, eliciting a snicker from neighbors of the development who came to complain during the meeting’s public comment period.

Some of the 30 neighbors of the project have also signed a petition of complaint about the conversion project, which has been going on more than five years, and used their time at the lectern Monday to list some of the complaints aloud. In addition to anger over Perroncello — “I’m a taxpayer, unlike the aforementioned Mr. Perroncello,” said Toby Stein, citing a Boston Herald article noting he owes $210,773 in back property taxes in Boston — the neighbors are angry at the city for what they say has been lax enforcement.

“The city has never enforced its fines,” or waives fines and fails to enforce a stop-work order, neighbor Charles Teague said. “They city just lets the neighborhood down.”

Coldwell Banker representative Bill Patterson, whose name is on a leasing sign in front of 45 Yerxa Road, was also called for comment. A co-worker said leasing agents don’t ask for certificates of occupancy and wouldn’t know they were leasing an apartment or condominium without one.

And people looking for a home wouldn’t naturally ask for one either.

A resident of 45 Yerxa Road said Wednesday that she hoped she wouldn’t have to move out.

There would be “significant problems,” she said, sounding worried.