SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 17, 2008

Rooming house can stay open with conditions

By Cate Lecuyer

BEVERLY — The Greycroft Inn can continue to operate, but city councilors attached a long list of rules when they approved the license Monday night.

The three-story rooming house with 21 tenants near Dane Street Beach has been a growing concern for neighbors, who complained that over the summer there were loud parties, fistfights in the street, beer bottles being tossed from a second-floor balcony and two sex offenders living in the building.

A group of about 10 neighbors pleaded with city councilors to either shut the rooming house down or impose restrictions.

The council approved nine conditions for license approval, a strict rental agreement and 25 house rules.

"They're common-sense rules," said attorney Marshall Handly, who represents owner Aldo Corelli. "It lets the tenants know what's expected of them and protects the rights of the neighbors. I think it was more than fair and reasonable for both sides."

Neighbor Robert Schlein agreed.

"A lot of what we asked for was pretty reasonable stuff," he said.

The nine conditions include appointing a resident manager to enforce rules, having tenants sign a strict rental agreement, and requiring background checks on a tenant's criminal and sexual offense history — much of which is standard for public housing, and is now being applied to the privately owned rooming house.

The 25 house rules are less formal: No loud music after 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends, no loitering or congregating on the front porch, and all smoking materials must be extinguished and disposed of properly.

The Greycroft Inn has been in existence for decades, but neighbors said the problems began when Corelli took over as owner in 2004.

"I think the neighbors and owner of the property realized there has been a problem over the last couple of years," Schlein said.

In August, City Councilors Kevin Hobin and Wesley Slate, along with police Chief Mark Ray, met with Corelli to discuss neighbors' concerns.

"It did get better once we started to get city councilors involved," Schlein said. "The purpose of the conditions are to make sure that stays in place."

Hobin said the license was granted for one year, and a subcommittee will check in once every three months to make sure the rules are being followed. Corelli, he said, has been very cooperative and has done everything asked of him.

The sex offenders complained about earlier have been evicted.

"I think this is going to hopefully put the neighbors at ease and improve the quality of life of the neighborhood," Hobin said.

Both Handly and Schlein said they were happy with the agreement and want to maintain a good relationship between neighbors and Greycroft.

"Nobody's got anything against the boarding house," Schlein said. "It's been there for years. God bless them."