TRURO — David and Carolyn Delgizzi of Weston, owners of the Truro Motor Inn, were rebuked by a judge at a Feb. 9 contempt hearing and ordered to find and pay for new homes for 20 tenants now living at their rundown property on Route 6.
“This is an illegal apartment building masquerading as a motel,” Southeast Housing Court Judge Donna Salvidio said in rejecting the Delgizzis’ request for a further stay in the proceedings. “The occupants need to be relocated ASAP to safe and habitable housing on the defendants’ dime because they created the situation.”
The town filed suit against the Delgizzis in 2019 after they ignored orders to correct numerous health and safety violations at the illegal apartments. Salvidio originally ordered the landlords to close the inn and rehouse its residents by Sept. 30, 2020, but the Delgizzis took no action. They have been illegally renting out the rooms to year-round tenants since 2015, according to filings in the case.
The Truro Motor Inn, a 36-unit motel at 296 Route 6, was formerly owned by Daniel Delgizzi, David’s father, who died in 2020. Daniel built the Truro Motor Inn in the 1960s by consolidating buildings from three small inns, including the Highlands House and Orleans Inn. Thirty of the 36 units have stoves, sinks, and refrigerators, according to court documents.
The Delgizzis’ Millions
According to town and state records, David and Carolyn Delgizzi own at least 31 properties statewide, with a combined assessed value of $14.47 million. Twenty-three of those properties are on Cape Cod, including the derelict Lobster Pound restaurant in Orleans and the Lobster Shanty in Eastham.
Besides the couple’s residence in Weston, which is assessed at $1.68 million, the Truro Motor Inn is their most valuable property, assessed at $1.04 million. According to court documents dated October 2021, the tenants of the 20 occupied units there were charged a combined $18,400 in monthly rent.
A motel license renewal inspection by the town in 2018 revealed that nearly every room at the inn failed to meet minimum square-foot requirements for both kitchen-equipped hotel rooms and year-round dwelling units. In 2019, 27 tenants occupied 21 units ranging from 164 to 503 square feet, according to court documents.
That year, town employees reported observing four year-round tenants sharing a 185-square-foot room. The state sanitary code requires dwelling units for single occupancy to have at least 150 square feet, plus another 100 square feet for each additional person. Only two units at the inn have more than 400 square feet, the minimum required by the Truro Board of Health for a kitchen-equipped hotel room.
Town health officials reported in 2018 that the inn’s exterior was littered with junk and that the building required repairs and did not have enough smoke detectors, according to court documents.
An Inn With 2 Pools
In May 2019, town employees observed David Delgizzi and a contractor attempting to repair the inn’s sewage disposal system without a permit. The inn has two cesspools. The board of health ordered the Delgizzis to upgrade their septic system to accommodate the changed use of the property, but no upgrade took place.
The town’s December 2019 complaint in Southeast Housing Court asked that the court appoint a receiver to take control of the property and address the overcrowding, septic, and other health issues. “The defendants have sufficient resources to correct their violations, but they choose to reap profit at the expense of the health and safety of their tenants,” the complaint stated.
The Delgizzis have maintained that they need the town to approve their septic system plan before they can address the issue of habitable space. They have repeatedly missed submission deadlines in seeking approval for a 44-bedroom septic system with multiple variances in an environmentally sensitive area.
According to the state Dept. of Environmental Protection, any septic plan serving more than 36 bedrooms at the site would constitute an increase in flow and would therefore be unacceptable. Because rooms will need to be reconfigured and renovated to fix the square-footage problems, ultimately decreasing the number of bedrooms, the septic plan cannot be approved until those problems of living space are resolved, the town has argued.
In July 2020, Judge Salvidio ordered the Delgizzis to submit a comprehensive plan explaining how they intended to bring the inn into compliance with Title 5 and other health codes and also showing how residents would be relocated within the building during construction. If the Delgizzis were unable to produce such a plan, they were to relocate all residents within 15 miles of the inn by Sept. 30, 2020. The Delgizzis were to pay for moving and travel costs, as well as any increase in rent until the residents found permanent housing of their choosing.
The Delgizzis did none of those things.
They did not appeal Salvidio’s order, but on Sept. 1, 2020 they asked the court to extend the deadline. The judge declined. In October 2021, the Delgizzis resubmitted a 44-bedroom septic plan for the inn and asked for three variances, which the Truro Board of Health denied.
“It’s a sham plan,” Truro Town Counsel Gregg Corbo said at the Feb. 9 hearing. “They’ve sat back and done absolutely nothing for a year and a half. They have decided to be laser focused on the issue of 44 bedrooms and nothing else.”
The Delgizzis’ attorney, Dina Browne of Walpole, did not explain why her clients never submitted plans to comply with the judge’s order. Rather, she reiterated the septic system argument and asked for a stay. “Until we know the number of bedrooms, our hands are tied as to reconfiguring them,” Browne said. “We’re not going to sacrifice these bedrooms that we’ve had for a very long time.”
Salvidio denied the request. “It is very clear that the matters involving the septic system are only a part of the court’s orders,” the judge said. “Other parts needed to be addressed immediately.”
Browne argued that finding new housing for every tenant within 15 miles of Truro would be impossible, given the Outer Cape’s housing crisis. She also claimed that several residents at the Truro Motor Inn are behind on paying rent and that the Delgizzis are owed $180,000. Even if housing could be found for them, she contended, landlords would probably not accept them as tenants.
Relocating the Tenants
In a settlement agreement hammered out on Feb. 9, both parties agreed to meet in the coming weeks with Boston-based RND Consultants, which does property management, to discuss a relocation plan. In October, RND submitted a plan to the town estimating that relocation for 20 tenants would take between six and nine months.
The next hearing in the Truro Motor Inn case will be held via Zoom on March 7 at 9 a.m. If the court has not received a mutually-agreed-upon relocation plan by that time, Clerk Joe McIntyre said, the case will return to in-person session.
The Delgizzis have a long history of tax delinquency both on and off Cape Cod. In the past 11 years, towns have filed a total of 15 tax-taking actions against them. Truro is currently pursuing tax-taking cases against three of their properties. The towns of Eastham and Rockland recently acquired by tax taking four Delgizzi properties with a combined assessed value of $1.27 million.
In 2018, the Mass. Department of Revenue placed a lien on Carolyn and David Delgizzis’ home in Weston because David Delgizzi failed to pay his personal income taxes and a wage violation fine. That debt is now settled, according to Mass. Land Court records.
According to documents filed in a Norfolk County Superior Court case in 2020, David Delgizzi failed to file personal state income taxes since 2005 and owed the state $373,605 for the years 2008 to 2014. In July, the IRS filed a federal tax lien against David Delgizzi in Suffolk County for $1.88 million in unpaid personal income taxes.