The Town of Marlborough Planning Board held its first public hearing for a Short Term Rental application under the new town law, but it didn’t ensue without any hiccups.
Michael Dziegelewski of 95 Millhouse Road has hopes of reserving a portion of his home to be used as an Airbnb. He hopes to rent out two sections of his property as separate entities: a one-bedroom on the side section of the home and a two-bedroom in the basement. Dziegelewski and his family would occupy more than 50 percent of the home in order to qualify for the owner occupied short term rental authorization.
But some of his neighbors raised concerns during the hearing that he was already operating the Airbnb without the Planning Board’s approval, while others worried it shouldn’t qualify to be rented at all.
“If this is under review now, then why is it allowed to be advertised and rented without anything being approved yet?” questioned neighbor Jennine Skernick. “I believe it has been rented … There’s been bonfires, there’s been loud everything. There’s the fireworks, there’s been all sorts of things happening there.”
Board attorney Pat Hines said the application was brought before the Planning Board as a code enforcement referral because it was operating out of compliance. Even if Dziegelewski was continuing to rent the property illegally, it wouldn’t be a matter handled by the Planning Board; that would fall under Code Enforcement Officer Thomas Corcoran.
Dziegelewski asserted that the bonfires, which Skernick described as “every single weekend that are burning all the way up almost to the top of the pine trees,” were started by himself and his wife in their fire pit and that they haven’t been renting the property. Skernick shared disbelief, and said she’d stop by to visit next time.
Another neighbor, Bob Magliano, hopped on the call to give a brief history of the home and his understanding that the units could not legally be rented out to the public.
According to Magliano, the home was originally built as a single family home with a mother/daughter on the north side of the building on a single family lot, but the family who owned the property at the time also owned the neighboring 1-acre lot. The then-building inspector gave the owners two Certifications of Occupancy: one for the single family and one for the two family home on the lot next door if they were to combine the two. The owners never combined the properties, but were able to get them legally recognized as separate lots. The family rented the mother/daughter to the public illegally while also illegally building a downstairs apartment.
Eventually, Magliano said, the family wanted to sell the uniquely structured home, but had to obtain a permit for the downstairs basement. The Code Enforcement officer supposedly approved it as a summer kitchen, which wouldn’t allow for sleeping quarters.
“I personally believe we’re on a slippery slope here, where we’ve got houses that have mother/daughter setups in them and all of a sudden they’re approved by law to be mother/daughter short term rentals. There’s something wrong with that,” Magliano said.
Similarly to Skernick’s complaints, Hines said it would be a matter limited to Corcoran’s jurisdiction. Board member Bob Troncillito later suggested that Dziegelewski request an inspection by Corcoran.
During their speaking turns, Magliano and Skernick both raised concern that they had not received public hearing notices despite living in close proximity to the application site. The Town Code calls for notices to be sent to properties within a 500-foot range, and Dziegelewski confirmed that he mailed out seven notices.
The full board agreed that the amount seemed too small and the process had most likely been carried out incorrectly. Additionally, the members asked Dziegelewski to return to the map-drawing board to amend the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms shown because it did not adequately reflect those that would be available in his rental.
The Planning Board then unanimously approved extending the public hearing until July 19 in order for Dziegelewski to create amended maps and to mail proper public hearing notices.