Q&A: Conversion Conundrum

Q Our condo community is considering converting a large community room into a gym  and kids play space, separated from each other by a child fence. Are there any  Massachusetts codes surrounding establishing gyms in residential buildings and  can children occupy the same room?  

 —Play Time in Merrimack  

A “There are a number of issues raised by this question,” says John E. Shaffer, attorney at Marcus Errico Emmer & Brooks, P.C in Braintree, MA. “First, I will assume that the gym or fitness center and play space in the  community room will be used exclusively by the residents of the condominium.  Certainly many codes and statutes would apply should the intent be to create a  gym/play space that will be open to the general public that do not come up in  the context of a private facility. Assuming that the facilities will only be  for the unit owner/residents, there is to my knowledge no special code or  statutory requirements that would apply to a plan to simply use part of an  existing community room as a fitness center and a child play space. Of course,  if there is to be significant construction involved, you would have to comply  with local building codes, obtain a permit, etc. I would suggest looking at the  condominium documents to see whether there are any limitations on the use of  the community room that would preclude the uses that are being considered.  Similarly I would check the local approvals of the condominium (special permit,  etc.) and local zoning to see if there are any limits on the use of the space  however, I think this is unlikely.”