TRURO — It was no surprise to any board of health member that the Delgizzi family had not complied with the latest orders to clean up their property and submit plans for repairs and septic upgrades.
Daniel Delgizzi and his son David have for years ignored town rules and failed to pay taxes on multiple rundown properties housing year-round tenants from Provincetown to Orleans, according to officials in those towns. [See the Independent’s Oct. 10 report.] Assessing records show they own about 100 units of housing, including 36 rooms at the Truro Motor Inn. It is this property that the board of health has now asked a court to seize control of.
The health board is searching for a way to keep the estimated 50 tenants from becoming homeless while also getting the Delgizzis to comply with health and safety codes. The property has a failed septic system, overloaded wiring, and overcrowded conditions.
On Oct. 22 the board voted four to one to petition a land court judge in Barnstable to place the property under the control of a receiver. The judge should decide in about two months, said Truro town counsel Gregg Corbo. The receiver would take the rent paid by tenants and apply it to repairs so the motel meets building codes.
But, explained Corbo, even if a receiver takes over — and he thinks one will — the tenants at the Truro Motor Inn could still be asked to leave or to pay much higher rent at some point in the process.
The number of people living there is going to be drastically reduced to meet code, said Mark Peters of the board of health.
Upgrading the inn and keeping it as year-round housing doesn’t make financial sense, said Jason Silva, a board member. “The numbers don’t work,” he said.
Meredith Goff, another board member, asked if the receiver would be responsible for finding housing for the tenants if they cannot stay.
Corbo said the landlord (in this case, the receiver) would have the responsibility to help find housing. But there are limited choices. Two housing organizations recently advised the board that only four potential units could be located to help the Truro Motor Inn tenants, said health board Chair Tracey Rose.
It could ultimately be determined that the motor inn cannot be operated as a lodging house, Corbo said. But that’s not under the board of health’s control.
“Your role is to protect public health,” he said.
The receivership process is intended to keep people in their homes longer than condemning it would. But one board member, Peter Van Stratum, said the place should be condemned. His was the only no vote on the receivership question.
“It is unsafe,” Van Stratum said. “You have extension cords that are hot, OK?”
To allow people to stay there for two years while the property gets fixed is “egregious on our part, on humanity’s part,” he said.