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Brady Sullivan Tenants Seek Intervention At Apartments Under EPA Investigation

Via apartments.com

New Hampshire-based developer Brady Sullivan is facing calls for more investigations at a building it owns in Rhode Island.

The Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed a report that it's investigating potential lead contamination at the Harris Mill Lofts in Coventry, Rhode Island.

Brady Sullivan, which is headquartered in Manchester and has properties all over New England, says that case stems from a lead paint complaint last year by from a Harris Mill tenant, Jeffrey Mastrobuono.

(Read the EPA’s 2017 notice to Brady Sullivan, and Brady Sullivan’s response.)

Mastrobuono is one of several current and former tenants of the Coventry complex who have filed lawsuits, saying Brady Sullivan let toxic mold and lead in the building seriously sicken them and their children.

The company has denied those allegations, and says they're complying with state and federal standards.

Brady Sullivan spokesman Jim Merrill says they aren't aware of any allegations "of units being 'contaminated' with lead." 

Company spokeswoman Patti Doyle also says the EPA case at Harris Mill bears little relation to a previous investigation at Brady Sullivan’s Mill West apartments in New Hampshire, which resulted in an EPA fine and a settlement with affected residents last fall.

“[T]he only similarity between Harris Mill and Mill West is that the EPA looked at our lead disclosures to tenants which we have taken proactive steps to address,” Doyle says in an email. “Any other suggestions that the issues raised at Harris Mill are similar to those at Mill West are simply untrue.”

Still, former Harris Mill tenants like Ryann McKinnon want their local government to help address their health concerns.

McKinnon says she lived in Harris Mill until March, leaving her exposed to mold and her young son with a rash. She spoke to members of Coventry's town council at their meeting Monday.

“You guys keep saying that nobody's commenting and nobody's talking to you guys,” she said through tears. “Well, I came forward and I did talk to you guys, and I sent pictures and everything of me and my son, and nobody replied to me."

(Watch discussion of Harris Mill during public comment at Monday's Coventry town council meeting.)

Rhode Island State Sen. Leonidas Raptakis has also asked Coventry’s town council to put Harris Mill on their agenda, writing letters in April and May and appearing in person.

The council hasn’t formally scheduled a discussion of Harris Mill since canceling one in March. 

Council member Karen Carlson says she's tried and failed to change that, but hopes the topic will come up again soon.

"I think the residents must be listened in this situation," she says.

But town officials say they believe they've done everything they can for now.

Town manager Stephen Delaney says in a statement that they were subpoenaed by Brady Sullivan, but didn't wind up testifying, in an eviction case for one of the tenants who's now suing with mold allegations.

Delaney also says the town solicitor has reviewed all complaints and town actions “regarding the conditions at Harris Mill” since Brady Sullivan got its certificates of occupancy for the building in 2014.

He says some of those complaints related to the same tenants pursuing lawsuits or town council action about Harris Mill.

“After review by the town solicitor of all such complaints, the town believes it has fulfilled all duties under law to accept, investigate and order remediation by Brady Sullivan of tenants and/or former tenants’ complaints regarding the conditions at Harris Mill,” Delaney says.

The town council president, who sets the group's agendas, didn't respond to a request for comment.

This story has been updated to include more details of statements from the EPA, Brady Sullivan and town of Coventry. 

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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