Officials consider court action against party house

Officials consider court action against party house

reporter photo

SOUTHINGTON — Town officials are considering an injunction to stop gatherings at a DeFashion Street house that included a sex party, busloads of guests and New York City-area visitors.

Possible legal action follows a cease and desist letter from the Planning Department and numerous visits from police due to noise complaints from neighbors since the beginning of the summer. None of those visits resulted in arrests or citations.

Gary Levine owns the 10,000 square-foot house on more than six acres at 375 DeFashion St. Town records show the seven-bedroom home was last sold for $550,000 in 2013. Levine couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

His son, Adam Levine, said it’s a family house that’s occasionally used since he and his father, who have a Golden Bridge, New York address, have rental properties in the area. Offering the house for short-term rentals was a way to pay the mortgage while their business suffered during the pandemic. They used Airbnb, a short-term rental company.

“Airbnb is legal. We’re not doing anything wrong,” Adam Levine said.

Town Planner Rob Philips said the property is operating as a boarding house, which isn’t permitted in the area. He sent a cease and desist letter to Gary Levine in August.

“They had an event where they had two busloads of people show up,” Phillips said. “Some of the events looked like they were parties.”

In addition to noise complaints and zoning problems, Philips said the gatherings in the midst of a pandemic were also a concern.

“We should all be pulling our weight when it comes to preventing superspreader events,” he said.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive orders set a limit of 25 people for indoor events and 100 for outdoor.

Town Attorney Jeremy Taylor said the town is working to stop the activities at 375 DeFashion St. and was considering a court injunction to prevent the Levines from renting the house.

Rentals have shut down

Since receiving the cease and desist letter, Adam Levine said he hasn’t been renting the property. He and his house manager, New York resident Fatih Saat, said they were misled by tenants about the number of guests who’d be staying.

Airbnb renters said they would abide by the 16 person limit but hosted much larger gatherings on occasions, leading to loud parties that disrupted neighbors, Adam Levine said.

“They’re not wrong to get mad,” Adam Levine said of neighbors, some of whom he’s since apologized to.

The most recent large party happened in late August. The renter, a woman from New York, told police that she thought there’d be no more than 20 to 30 people in attendance. A police report on the incident didn’t estimate the crowd but Saat said there were between 150 and 200 people.

“We kicked them out with police. We told them to leave,” Saat said.

Adam Levine said he hopes to continue renting the house with better oversight of tenants. Not only did the large parties bother neighbors and violate pandemic restrictions, the guests also did $500,000 worth of damage, according to Adam Levine.

“They had at least 100-plus people in my kitchen,” he said. “They destroyed everything.”

‘Anything GoesWeekends,’ weddings

Police reports and online listings show a wedding ceremony, reception and after-party at the DeFashion Street home in July. Neighbors complained about music and police asked the wedding organizers to keep the music and DJ microphones at a reasonable level.

After 15 noise complaints and one vandalism complaint between June and the beginning of September, police Detective Jonathan Lopa investigated what was happening at the house. Saat told him that guests scheduled for that month were informed about the limit of 16 people and intended to abide by it.

Lopa also wrote in his report that he found an advertisement for an “Estate Parties ‘Anything Goes Weekend’” on Facebook. The event at 375 DeFashion was scheduled for June 18 to 20 during which Lopa said police were dispatched to the house for a noise complaint. Arriving officers found 30 cars in the driveway. Levine told police that night that he’d turn the music down according to the report.

Lopa also referenced additional information found online by the Zoning Department about “estate parties” held at the DeFashion Street house. That included a list of rules for parties. The report did not detail the rules, but a review of the document online indicates that they include temperature checks to prevent infection, a recommendation that guests get tested for COVID-19 and a requirement that guests bring masks and condoms.

“It is not known when these rules were created but they do show that (hosts) Adam and Mildred intend to have parties involving sex with consenting adults over the age of 21 years old,” Lopa wrote. “(The rules and advertisement) do not have any information that would suggest a criminal law was being violated.”

Adam Levine said on Wednesday that he’s been in Ecuador with his wife and son for much of the summer but was at the house with around five friends from New York City this summer. He said there’s often a lot of cars in the driveway since everyone in his family has a car. Levine declined to discuss details of specific parties. 

In police complaints, renters who were identified with an address came from the New York City area including Brooklyn, Woodhaven and Brunswick, New Jersey.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

Read the police response reports.
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