Poland council suggests Evergreen Drive residents form homeowner association

POLAND — Residents near and on Evergreen Drive banded together before village council to make one last-ditch effort to address the issue of multiple renters in their residential neighborhood.

But council suggested neighbors take the matter into their own hands by forming a homeowner association.

The women in the home at 234 Evergreen Drive are all developmentally disabled and cared for by guardians and caretakers round the clock. Though village zoning restricts the neighborhood to single-family homes, the renters are protected under the Fair Housing Act and American Disabilities Act, which prevent housing discrimination.

The house was purchased at a sheriff’s sale by Frank Divito, a private investor who buys, renovates and rents vacant properties. He housed the women with the help of New Leaf Residential Services Inc., which manages group homes for developmentally disabled people through the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Since the women took up residence in the spring, neighbors have voiced concerns about the possibility of lowered property values.

Village solicitor Anthony D’Apolito told the neighbors Tuesday even if the local government made any action to challenge the issue, he felt confident the federal government would block it and cause more trouble than it would prevent for the concerned neighbors.

Instead, he suggested if the neighbors want to challenge it further, the best thing would be to create a homeowner association. Through his research of some 50 cases in the U.S., 15 percent were carried through homeowner associations instead of the government and fewer of those changed anything.

“In some cases, homeowner associations had more standing because the things they were touching upon were their homeowner rights,” he said. “And collectively, arguments could be made about neighborhoods that could not be made about townships and villages.”

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