The City Council is looking for a new ordinance that will provide a clearer definition of condominiums in the city’s regulations and prevent condominium developments from easily being flipped to apartments.
At last Monday night’s meeting, Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna and City Council President Gerry Visconti cosponsored a motion asking the City Planner to draft a new ordinance for the definition and use regulations for condominiums, specifically to define condominiums as a separate use from apartments.
“Currently, our ordinance doesn’t differentiate between apartments and condos,” said Visconti. “Bringing forth this motion was to make sure that future developers that come into our city don’t come in front of the council and market their project as condos and then flip them to apartments.”
McKenna said there was an incident almost two years ago where a businessman bought a three-floor apartment complex in her ward and wanted to turn them into six condos. After the building design was approved for the condominiums, she said, the businessman sold the building to someone who turned the condos into six apartments in the building. “Not only is it bad for the neighborhood and now the street is inundated with cars – there are no repercussions going forward,” said McKenna. “This has taken place throughout the whole city and has to be stopped. A new ordinance has to be written to protect our neighbors.”
Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo said there are plenty of apartments throughout the city, and separating apartments and condominiums makes perfect sense. “It’s much more palatable, and always has been much more palatable to me to entertain a condo project complex, for obvious reasons,” said Rizzo. “You’ve got ownership issues; they become invested in the community in respect to the transient nature of apartments versus condominiums. It just makes perfect sense as far as I am concerned.”
Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo said the City Solicitor will have to take a very deep look at the legality of any new ordinance. “I think use is a very specific legal term, and I think we need to really ensure that we have the ability to do this,” said Rotondo. “I support the effort, but I think there may be some legal hurdles here.”
Ward 5 Councillor Al Fiore said he supports any measure that strengthens the zoning ordinance in the city. “We’ve allowed far too many apartments to be built over the past several years, burdening our neighborhoods and creating traffic problems,” said Fiore.