Milton Ave. illegal lodging house in limbo; neighbors wait out process

No one will be allowed to move into the property at 96 Milton Ave. that city inspectors determined has been illegally used as a lodging house until its owner winds his way through the appropriate zoning and legal process, a judge ruled last week.

The owner and neighbors of the large three-decker at the corner of Milton Avenue and Stockton Street have been at an impasse for about six months over the status of the residence.

Initially concerned by a pocket of high- and moderaterisk sex offenders who appeared to be living in the home, abutters and nearby residents sounded the alarm late last summer. City inspectors soon discovered that the house was being used illegally as a lodging house for around 18 individuals.

Last month, the owner, Kelvin Sanders, filed to convert the building into a 24-occupant lodging house, weeks after the city had brought him to court over the improper use. A Suffolk Superior Court judge ruled on Feb. 13 that Sanders is in violation of city code and must either obtain Zoning Board of Appeals approval for the conversion or transform the property back into an appropriately zoned three-family dwelling.

Dawn Barrett, president of the Dorchester Unified Neighborhood (DUN) Association civic group and an immediate abutter, said a lodging house is completely unpalatable for the neighbors. “We’re not interested,” she told the Reporter on Wednesday. “We don’t want a boarding house at all. There is no other lodging house, no 24-unit lodging house, in the neighborhood.”

A DUN meeting was scheduled for last night (Wed., Feb. 22) at Boston International High School from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Although Barrett said they were hoping for an update, there was no reason to expect Sanders or his team to attend the meeting.

Sanders, his attorney Neil Kreuzer, their architecture team, and the woman in charge of placing tenants into the property attended the Jan. 25 meeting, she said. The presentation at the January meeting, attended by over 40 people, had a markedly disrespectful tone, Barrett said. Sanders “seemed pretty clueless” about the residents’ concerns, she said.

“Nobody was in agreement [with him]. We had to vote in the end. Nobody raised their hands. Nobody supported Kelvin Sanders’s plans to convert this to a lodging house.”

Inspectional services spokeswoman Lisa Timberlake said no Zoning Board for Appeals date had yet been assigned to the project. DUN members have started a signature petition to oppose Sanders’s plan and distribute additional fliers around the neighborhood, Barrett said. But for now, they are biding their time until a hearing date is announced. “We have no other choice,” she said. “We have to follow the process. There is a process they can’t just put them all out because it’s an illegal house. We’ll just be patient and wait them out.”