Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Landlord cited over lead paint dangers

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
Published: Thursday, July 17, 2008 1:08 PM EDT

VERNON — A Boston-based real estate developer and 23 affiliated landlords with properties in two Connecticut towns — Vernon and New Haven — have been cited with 839 violations of laws requiring them to notify tenants about lead paint in their apartments.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency informed local public health officials Tuesday that it would be taking enforcement action against the developer, The Community Builders Inc., and its associated landlords. They are facing multimillion dollar penalties for repeatedly breaking lead disclosure laws in 11 communities in Massachusetts and Connecticut between 2003-2006.

Vernon Town Administrator Christopher Clark said Tuesday that the local properties affected are primarily on Park West and Terrace drives in the Rockville section of town where buildings tend to predate 1978, when use of lead paint was banned.

“There’s no information that there’s lead paint in any of the properties,” Clark said of the houses cited. “But there’s also been no indication that the apartments have been tested at all there,” he added.

Federal law requires landlords and property owners to notify prospective tenants or buyers about the potential for lead paint hazards in homes to protect children from ingesting lead.

Infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to exposure, which can cause diminished intelligence, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and behavior programs. High lead levels also can cause difficult pregnancies as well as high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems, and muscle and joint pain in adults.

EPA officials say there’s no indication that any children were lead poisoned as a result of the violations, but some of the properties listed in the complaint are known to contain lead-based paint and tenants weren’t informed.

The companies face penalties of up to $11,000 for each violation cited in the federal complaint.

The Community Builders develops, finances, and operates mixed-income housing and manages over 90 developments having about 8,750 housing units in numerous cities in the East.

Besides New Haven and Vernon, other properties named in the complaint are in the Massachusetts towns of: Boston, Fall River, Gloucester, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lexington, Springfield, Westfield, and Worcester.

Community Builders is also the developer of the $73 million Dutch Point housing project in Hartford’s south end, but that property was not cited.

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