GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

July 1, 2013

Sandy Bay Estates faces town sanctions

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ROCKPORT — Paragon Properties, which manages Rockport’s Sandy Bay Estates housing complex, prides itself on “a model of excellence and perfection,” according to the Needham-based company’s website.

Rockport’s health agent, however, has found anything but.

Residents brought complaints to the Rockport Board of Health late last month and health agent Leslie Whelan soon followed up with an inspection, mainly in and around Building 7 in of the complex.

From sewer lines to trash pile ups and everything in between, Whelan documented a laundry list of violations — including numerous violations in the laundry room itself.

A number of violations were classified as “conditions deemed to endanger or impair health or safety,” according to the letter addressed to Steven Glick of Paragon Properties and dated June 24. Some of these include water leaking from the ceiling of the laundry room over an electrical panel, letting sediment piling up in the laundry room sink, wet floors, improperly lit auxiliary lights and exit signs, and gaps in the guardrail.

The Board of Health issued a similar letter about the lack of exterior lighting to Glick last April. And town police, concerned about the lack of exterior lighting, have since followed up with the property as well.

“As far as I know, everything is working,” Rockport Police Sgt. Robert Tibert said about the exterior lighting.

Massachusetts law requires Paragon Properties to begin all necessary repairs to critical problems within 24 hours or receiving the letter. The letter also states that repairs to other violations must be started within five days, and Paragon Properties is required to make a “good faith” effort to correct them by July 25, the same day the building is set to be reinspected.

Sandy Bay Estates has about 96 apartments, including a number of tenants are on federally subsidized housing assistance, commonly referred to as Section 8.

According to the company’s website, Paragon Properties and its affiliates have managed and developed more than $100 million worth of property across the United States and in the Caribbean. Marvin M. Glick, who is listed as the chief executive officer of Paragon Properties, is also listed as the manager of another real estate company Sandy Bay Acquisitions LLC, according to filings with the Massachusetts Secretary of State.

The two companies share the same Needham address, and Sandy Bay Acquisitions was ordered to dissolve in 2011. But, in 2012, the reasons for administrative dissolution had been cleared up, according to Sectary of State records.

With 25 violations documented, one of them dates back to letter issued by the Board of Health from 2005, with the swimming pool cited for standing water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Other violations were still listed as unaddressed from another letter issued in May of this year, the new letter indicates.

Other violations listed are trash, leaves, and rotting wood all around the property, missing hallway screens for windows and a broken bench on the front lawn.

“The entire property needs to be cleaned of rubbish, garbage and debris on a regular basis,” the letter reads.

In addition, occupants stated in their complaint that snow from recent storms was not removed until 3 p.m. after a heavy storm. The person who cleared the snow drove from Worcester — which is more nearly 85 miles away. The letter from the town notes that local crews must be hired to remove snow.

Steven Glick could not be reached for comment on this story.

Residents of the apartment complex have some legal and financial options to consider, according to the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Tenants can withhold rent under some circumstances, they can make repairs using rent money and the tenants or the Board of Health may petition the court system to have rent paid to a court rather than Paragon Properties. The court then appoints someone who spends as much of the rent money needed to make the repairs.

Increasing the rent or evicting a resident in retaliation for filing a complaint to the Board of Health is also a violation of state law. The letter states that, after the current tenants leave the property, it will be a violation for to rent or occupy units untill the violations are corrected.

Paragon Properties, however, has the right to request a hearing in writing before the town’s Board of Health by today.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.