The Baker’s Dozen a cappella group may be evicted from their current house at 235 Dwight Street due to New Haven zoning regulations and bitter relations with neighbors, zoning officials announced.
In order for the Baker’s Dozen to remain in the house, Off Broadway — the company which owns the property — must appeal to the zoning board for a special-use permit, said Andrew Rizzo, head of the Office of Building Inspection and Enforcement. Neighbors who are frustrated with the group’s loud parties have said they will likely oppose the appeal.
The zoning board inspected the house two weeks ago, Baker’s Dozen house manager Robby Schrum ’05 said. The house had been zoned as a two-family house but was being used as a rooming house by the Baker’s Dozen, Rizzo said. Rooming houses are required to have two exits accessible from every room, which 235 Dwight Street does not have, he said.
“We cited them for zoning violations as an illegal rooming house,” Rizzo said. “235 had violations of building and fire codes for exiting.”
Relations between the Baker’s Dozen house — which currently has six occupants — and other Dwight Street residents were already strained before the zoning officials’ announcment. New Haven police have been called to the house 28 times since 1999, mostly for noise complaints.
Schrum ’05 said he believes the group has a right to stay on Dwight Street, where they have lived for five years.
“Our neighbors have been in constant contact with the city trying to, shall we say, ‘clarify’ our status,” Schrum said. “I’ll acknowledge that late-night parties can be disruptive but I think the complaints are exaggerated.”
Lyle Maltz ’05, business manager for the singing group, said neighbors have complained excessively about noise, even when Baker’s Dozen members are simply watching television.
But Dwight Street residents said they can no longer deal with the noise that the Baker’s Dozen parties bring to the neighborhood.
Bill Label, 62, who lives at 226 Dwight Street, said he feels optimistic that the Baker’s Dozen will not live on the street much longer. Label said he notified Rizzo’s office of the zoning violation and triggered the inspection in the first place.
“All of us surrounding the building will write letters,” Label said. “Then taking our letters into consideration, [Off Broadway] will probably not be given the possibility of having the rooming house.”
John Moore Crossey, 71, a retired employee of Sterling Memorial Library who lives two doors down from the house, said he will oppose the zoning appeal from Off Broadway.
“[The Baker’s Dozen are] just a pain in the neck,” Crossey said. “They’re nice enough guys individually, but when they get together for a party, they forget that they live among working stiffs who have to get up for work in the morning.”
Off Broadway representatives could not be reached for comment.
In October 2001, eight residents of Dwight Street signed a complaint sent to the Baker’s Dozen and copied to Yale Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg and the New Haven Police Department.
“We are not about to display a polite attitude in the face of such inconsiderate arrogance,” the letter read. “In the long run, you may want to consider finding other accommodations. We are sure a house in the woods with no immediate neighbors would meet your needs.”
Schrum said he has not heard from the city or his landlord yet about the details of the zoning controversy.
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