HARTFORD-- Controversy in Hartford's West End, where neighbors say four families living in one mansion is "too many."
Some residents are holding up zoning laws as reasons to evict them.
Those zoning laws stipulate that a "single family" must occupy a home at 68 Scarborough Street. However, 11 people--eight adults and three children--currently live in the home at 68 Scarborough St.
The definition of family is coming into play--the homeowners believe they operate as a family, but neighbors disagree. "We live here as a family would, with a large kitchen and living room and we eat together, and we do our chores, we are really are quite boring," said Julia Rosenbaltt, a resident at the home.
The home had been vacant for several years before it was purchased in August 2014 by Laura Rozza and Simon Desantis for $453,000, according to city records.
Rozza and Desantis moved in with their spouses, and then another couple moved in, along with two single adults. "This is a project we've been working on for a long time," said Dave Rozza. Rozza says the eight adults in the home have known each other for at least 15 years and had planned to all live together to build equity while living in a self-sustaining environment.
Rozza says all eight adults share ownership and expenses, but complaints from neighbors have surfaced.
"This is a single-family neighborhood. The homes are supposed to be detached, single family, not four families living in a single home," said neighbor Ken Lerman, also a member of Hartford Zoning Board of Appeals.
The homeowners say they've been hit with a cease and desist order from the city.
"While an order can be issued, we don't know what the effect of it is, that may be the point where the West End Civic Association weighs in," said John Gale, a board member for the West End Civic Association.
The West End Civic Association Planning and Zoning Commission held a public meeting Wednesday night because of a number of resident complaints due to the zoning issue. Gale, also the chairman of the WECA's planning and zoning commission, says the neighborhood association will eventually take input from the meeting and make a recommendation to Hartford'sPlanning and Zoning Commission
"There's a process, and there could be potentially many decision makers along the way," said Gale.
Rosenbaltt and the other residents living at 68 Scarborough St. point to other cities and towns in Connecticut and in the U.S. that have expanded the definition of family to include households of more than two unrelated adults with a shared kitchen and household budget.
The city of Hartford has been in the process of re-evaluating its zoning standards. ZoneHartford is a project to update Hartford's zoning regulations to place a larger emphasis on building form rather than focusing on separation of uses.
Current regulations date to 1969, according to the city's website.
City officials did not respond to a request for additional information on the cease and desist order.
"This has been uncomfortable, painful and stressful, and we haven't really gotten beyond that," said Rosenbaltt.