Saturday, May 18, 2024

Property at Yerxa Road and Rindge Avenue in North Cambridge is seen in late April, before rounds of cleaning that may allow developer Joseph Perroncello to avoid a jury trial next month. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The developer of a troubled residential site in North Cambridge was given a new trial date of Nov. 16 at appearance Thursday at Middlesex District Court, although he can avoid a trial altogether if city inspectors agree he has cleaned his site adequately.

The wrinkle is that the developer, Joseph Perroncello, may not be the owner of the property after Nov. 3, when it is being auctioned off by his mortgage holder, Webster Bank.

The land, a 2.2-acre, L-shaped site on Rindge Avenue and Yerxa Road that can hold up to 63 units, seems to exist in the limbo section of Cambridge: In addition to Perroncello’s paradoxical situation, the lapse of his temporary certificate of occupancy means the residents in the site’s completed building — one of three in the former Roman Catholic school and convent — are once again living there illegally.

Perroncello won the temporary certificate of occupancy in March, after letting tenants move in without one, because city inspectors said there were no “life safety” issues at stake. But the site’s ramshackle condition, which had bothered neighbors through nearly six years of complaints and petitions to Perroncello, his contractors and city officials, was bad enough that in April the developer was ordered to court.

The financially troubled Boston man has been representing himself in court since June, and appeared again alone at the Medford court Thursday, according to neighbors and North Cambridge development watchdogs who attended.

A closed-door “lobby conference” with Perroncello, city attorney Joseph Amoroso and two city building inspectors resulted in the judge’s decision to cancel the jury trial if equipment is removed from the site and a formerly grassy open space on Rindge is returned to normal, the residents reported after their own conference with Amoroso.

A mound of dirt appears to have been flattened there, adding significantly to the height of the open space. Workers appear to have also moved some fencing, with reports putting them at the scene as recently as Tuesday.

The judgment as to whether Perroncello complies lies with the inspectors, neighbors were told.

Meanwhile, Quincy-based auctioneers Daniel J. Flynn & Co. Inc. seem ready to proceed with the 11 a.m. foreclosure sale, to be held at the property. The sale was to have taken place Sept. 15, but was delayed for undisclosed reasons.

The neighbors and area watchdogs worry Perroncello will manage to somehow buy back the property.

“It’s been done,” area resident Charles Teague has said.

A message seeking comment about the tenants’ situation — the lack of a certificate of occupancy — was left Thursday with Ranjit Singanayagam, the city’s building commissioner and commissioner of Inspectional Services.