Members of Yale’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon were not planning weekend parties Tuesday night — they were suited up at the Board of Zoning Appeals.
SAE’s building permit lapsed 12 years ago because the chapter did not comply with city regulations. But the city only notified the fraternity last April — a delay no one would explain — and levied a $1,000 fine. The four SAE brothers and their lawyer, James Segaloff, attended the zoning board meeting Tuesday to begin the appeals process.
They presented their off-site parking lease with the New Haven Parking Authority to prove compliance with the conditions in the original 1996 permission from the city. Yale’s SAE chapter, established in 1988, moved to its current house in 1996, when the chapter applied to the zoning board for a “Special Exception” to convert a one-family residence to a fraternity house that same year. The city granted permission on the condition that the house annually submit proof of a valid 0ff-site parking lease agreement to the zoning enforcement officer.
Two SAE brothers interviewed said they were not in danger of losing the space, where students congregate for late-night parties.
“[The lapsed permit] is definitely on our radar,” Will Bradley ’12 said. “It shouldn’t have too much lasting damage.”
Additionally, the city stipulated, the zoning board’s permission would be revoked unless the house obtained a building permit and certificates of occupancy or applied to renew the special exception for both use and parking. As SAE did not fulfill any of those conditions, permission lapsed in April 1997.
The New Haven Building Department sent a letter to the house in April 2009, ordering the brothers to cease and desist use within 10 days of its receipt. Of SAE’s 65 members, eight currently live at 35 High St.
“The way it was presented at the BZA meeting was they failed to follow through properly,” Deputy Director of Zoning Thomas Talbot said.
SAE Housing Manager Danny Diamond ’11 declined to comment on why SAE is only addressing the lapsed permit now. Bradley said SAE members were asked to refer comment to Segaloff, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Though SAE did apply for the appropriate Rooming House License — which would have marked them as a fraternity rather than a single-family residence — in 2002, the application was returned because SAE had not obtained the appropriate building permit or submitted a parking lease to Land Records. Zoning board approval without obtaining a building permit expires after one year.
SAE President Jamie Coleman ’11 said the reapplication for parking was the first in a series of steps the fraternity will take to renew its permits.
“It’s a pretty interesting situation,” Coleman said. “There are steps you go through.”
He added that he is unsure why the city had not approached the house regarding the permit until April, 12 years after it expired.
While most of the brothers are not involved in the permit renewal process, Bradley said, they became aware of the issue during the fraternity’s weekly meeting.
“We might have to do some work,” Bradley said. “There are a few health and safety issues that we have to fix.”