Oneida lawmakers seek moratorium on boarding, rooming houses

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ONEIDA — The Oneida Common Council introduced a local law to impose a 12-month moratorium on boarding houses and rooming houses in the city after an incident involving migrant workers from Green Empire Farms.

“This moratorium came to be because of one of the commercial buildings downtown,” Mayor Helen Acker said. “A landlord allowed migrant workers from Green Empire Farms to live there and that building wasn’t set up as an apartment building. It was set up for office space.”

Acker said there were more than 20 people living on this commercial property with only one and a half bathrooms and a small kitchen. It came to the city council’s attention and efforts were made to help relocate the migrant workers to regular buildings.

“This brought to light that we don’t have any laws on the books about boarding houses,” Acker said. “My main concern is the safety of those living in Oneida and this is why we brought this forth.”

Acker added that the landlord in question was displeased with the city’s choice to relocate the people at the commercial property.

“Some of us [on the council] got these threatening texts with pictures from a fake phone number,” she said. “They hung a banner up that said ‘Welcome to the racist city of Oneida’.”

Acker said the property owner in question is mad that the city isn’t letting him collect money.

“And that’s just too bad,” she continued. “He’s not concerned about the safety and health of the people living there. So we are going to do something. And that’s why we introduced this moratorium as a local law.”

There were no other comments on the proposed local law and a public hearing was scheduled for Monday, Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the Common Council chambers. After the public hearing, the local law will come up for a vote by the city council.

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