Springfield approves new rental ordinance
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | May 15,2013
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Select Board approved a new rental registry ordinance on a 3-2 vote Monday night, but by Tuesday, one of the board members said he would petition to repeal the ordinance.
Select Board member David Yesman said Tuesday he would be collecting the more than 300 signatures needed to petition for repeal.
Yesman said he was upset with fellow board members for voting for the new rental registry ordinance, which includes, in addition to the registry, a series of inspections for all apartments in Springfield.
More than two dozen landlords attended Monday night’s final hearing on the ordinance, and Yesman — himself a landlord — said the other Select Board members ignored the landlords’ wishes.
They were the only members of the public to come out to talk about the ordinance, he said, and while they supported the registry, they opposed the inspection process.
Town Manager Robert Forguites said the new ordinance will go into effect in 60 days. He said if anyone opposes the ordinance, they must submit a petition with the signatures of 5 percent of the registered voters in Springfield within 44 days.
Forguites said Monday night’s session devoted close to three hours to the ordinance, which was ultimately accepted by the board.
Board Chairman Kristi Morris said he voted in favor of the ordinance, along with Select Board members Michael Knoras and Peter MacGillivray. Select Board member Stephanie Gibson voted against the ordinance, but said it was because she felt there should be another public hearing on the ordinance, which she supported.
Both Morris and Yesman said the landlords appeared to support the rental registry aspect of the ordinance, but in Yesman’s words, objected to the inspections.
“They felt the inspection was too restrictive,” said Morris, who said the new ordinance simply called for one inspection every five years.
Morris said that apartments in Springfield are currently subjected to fire and safety inspections by the state, but that the ordinance does add a Springfield inspection, by the town’s health officer.
Springfield Fire Chief Russell Thompson is the town’s current health officer.
“The town will compile a database of rental registry,” Morris said.
Before someone can rent an apartment, the town must issue a “certificate of fitness” which will include the state inspection by fire/safety officer, as well as a health order checklist from the town, he said.
Yesman said he had invited a few of the landlords to attend the session. Yesman is a relatively small landlord, with five apartments.
Several of the landlords attending the session, he said, have 20 to 30 apartments in Springfield.