BELMONT — State Rep. Michael Sylvia told a superior court judge Wednesday that if the case regarding his use of a converted garage as a residence proceeds to trial as scheduled this summer, he will argue that the suit the town of Belmont has filed against him is baseless.
At a 15-minute hearing in Belknap Superior Court on the status of the seven-month-old case, Sylvia told Judge James D. O’Neill III said that none of the ways he has used his property at 216 Farrarville Road is illegal.
Sylvia, who is acting as his own attorney, told the judge, “I can prove the town’s claim is without merit. … The suit was unnecessary.”
The town took the four-term Republican state legislator to court last August, alleging he had been living for seven years in a camper van-type recreational vehicle for which he has no appropriate town permit, and in a converted garage for which he had obtained no building permit to make alterations. The town also said it had no record of a working septic system on the property.
Town Attorney Laura Spector-Morgan told O’Neill the town stands by its position that Sylvia had been using the property improperly, and that it would only agree to a dismissal of the case if the court issued a permanent injunction barring Sylvia from reoccupying the property until he obtains all the required permits for the use of that property.
In an earlier court filing, Spector-Morgan stated, “The town objects to dismissal of the complaint without the issuance of an order from the court prohibiting (the) defendant from reoccupying the property at 216 Farrarville Road in any manner unless and until he obtains the required permits for the RV or the conversion of the garage or the creation of some other living space, as well as for the septic system.”
Since last fall Sylvia has been living in an apartment at 312 Daniel Webster Highway (Route 3). However, he told the judge he considers the Farrarville Road property to be his domicile “which means it’s my principal place of residence."
Sylvia also told the court that if his case goes to trial he plans to cite a Massachusetts case in which, he said, a court found that building codes do not apply to a single-family home.
Spector-Morgan said that in addition to asking the judge to issue a permanent injunction regarding Sylvia’s property, the town is asking that Sylvia pay civil penalties – which to date total almost $158,000 – as well as reimbursing the town for its legal fees connected to the case.
O’Neill took the arguments under advisement, but gave no indication when he would issue a ruling.
A one-day, non-jury trial in the case is scheduled to take place on June 24.