May 21, 2013

Route 1 apartment complex in S. Portland draws scrutiny

Fire and code officials will inspect the building after the lack of working fire alarms forces evictions.

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — Fire safety and code inspectors plan to inspect an apartment complex on Route 1 this week following the South Portland Fire Department's eviction of two residents because the 20-unit building lacked a working fire alarm system.

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This apartment complex on Route 1 in South Portland will be inspected later this week. It is owned by East Coast Hospitality and managed by MaineLy Property Management.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Tim Ly, the owner of MaineLy Property Management, talks about his efforts to satisfy safety requirements in the Route 1 apartment complex he manages. He’s standing in one of the rooms that need upgrading so he can get an occupancy permit.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

The property's owners will spend $5,000 in the coming days to install the hard-wired network of heat sensors and alarms required by law for multi-unit buildings, said Tim Ly, owner of MaineLy Property Management, which oversees 40 units on the same property as the Super 8 motel.

"Anything they ask us to do, we try to comply with," Ly said of the inspectors. "I try to make their job easy."

The complex is expected to get a round of inspections Thursday by local and state code and fire-safety officials, said South Portland Code Enforcement Officer Pat Doucette.

"I believe MaineLy Properties really and truly have good intentions," Doucette said. "We give everybody the benefit of the doubt, but after a while it becomes a real life-safety issue and we have to evict people."

Doucette said three of the five units were vacated voluntarily before the fire department inspected the building May 13 and evicted two residents. Ly said he paid to move residents of one room, and the occupants of the fifth room left voluntarily after the fire department's orders.

Although Doucette said Ly's company has been a cooperative, helpful partner, she questioned whether the property owners are willing to make improvements.

"It's up to the property owner to actually shell that money out," Doucette said.

Jay Yetty, who owns East Coast Hospitality, the company that owns the motel and adjacent apartments, did not respond to calls for comment.

On Monday, a maintenance worker went room to room at the two-story building, identifying minor changes that may help it pass inspection, such as removing and replacing water-damaged ceiling tiles, cleaning the rooms, and replacing broken, missing or worn-out fixtures.

Last month, the City Council decided not to sell a slice of city-owned property next to the motel that would have let the complex's owners meet residential density requirements to lease more units.

Neighbors had complained about tenants who had loud parties and let pets wander through a wooded area between the motel complex and the street nearby.

Fire Chief Kevin Guimond said his department has been working proactively to protect residents. "(The residents were) in a bad situation and we're trying to put them in a better place to live," Guimond said.

"You finally get to a point where it just wasn't safe."

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

mbyrne@pressherald.com

 

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