Zoning regulations may disband West End “family”

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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.

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14 comments

  • Melanie

    So the neighbors would rather have a vacant property than tax-paying, law-biding people next to them? This doesn’t make any sense. Families come in all shapes and sizes. You could easily have a “traditional” family of 11 living next door… all it takes is Mom, Dad, 7 kids, and a couple grandparents. Since this was a vacant MANSION, who cares if they are related by blood or not? Doesn’t our state have bigger issues to worry about? Try not to travel outside of your comfort zone people….

  • Tuan

    It really depends on how they go about it. It seems they did it right. In many homes here there are 3,4,5 or more families in a single househuld and they have so many cars that it spills out onto the road, yard, etc. It looks terrible and is really not safe. For those situations – this is where I would enforce it. Right now I have my brother living with me, is that a second family? I doubt it…but when he gets married who knows? My house is more than big enough for two families.

  • Steph

    Just a bunch of rich, bored snobs who have nothing better to do with their day. Why is this any of their business? That poor family dealing with this nonsense during the holidays. The house is clearly big enough maybe these people should be thankful they even have the money to live in such a nice neighborhood. Or get a hobby.

  • Kristen

    Focus on something real, let this family alone. Let me know how I can help!!!! I love the way you are all living, community. Thats all that needs to be said.

  • KC

    I don’t understand why people in West Hartford/West End get so uptight about their neighbors. If there are no outward disturbances, or even inward for that matter, why do they care? There is a weird dynamic in this part of Connecticut which involves people of certain neighborhoods wanting to maintain a perfect lifestyle for everyone in the neighborhood, but situations are different, and nothing will ever be perfect. Everyone should learn to just worry about themselves unless something else is directly affecting them.

  • kellijoy

    The over-regulation of our country is out of control! This shouldnt even be an issue! We have the right to live in community with our family whether they are blood related or not and no one should have the right to tell us otherwise.

  • Rodney bull

    Do they know about the my people convict apartment program that is housing several rapists/ sexual offenders/pedophiles, mentally unstable scitzopzantics , thieves , drugs dealers, etc at 28-32 girard avenue that has hurt the the safety of the west end?

  • Meghan

    They are doing something positive by living together as a cooperative unit and they have been part each others’ lives for years. Sounds like a family to me. It’s a truly screwed up situation when cooperative living is banned, and it’s OK for a house to sit totally vacant. These residents are just trying to live their lives in peace – leave them alone!