Delaney Road Homeowners Object To Lawsuit From Their Neighbors
Ralph & Bonnie Keith •
*Editor's note: this letter references a recent Zoning Board of Appeals case in which Chris Quick has sought an enforcement action against his neighbors on Delaney Road for operating a short-term rental, which he asserts is a violation of the Nantucket zoning bylaw. The ZBA ultimately voted unanimously to support the determination of the town's Building Commissioner: that short-term rentals do not violate the town's current zoning bylaw. You can watch the recent hearing by clicking here.
To the editor: We would like to make the following comments in response to the false characterizations of us that Christopher and Ann Quick have made to the Zoning Board of Appeals:
By way of background, I came to Nantucket for my first summer in 1943. My parents owned two houses and vacation-rented one to summer visitors. In the 1950’s, I attended Academy Hill school. Years later, my parents sold the homes. In 1964, Bonnie and I honeymooned on Nantucket. In the years after, Bonnie and I visited staying with friends and on our small boat.
In 1989, Bonnie and I finally purchased our own home, an older Nantucket house. Maintenance and repairs were done by our family. We were always busy planting flowers, trimming privet, mowing the lawn, and weeding. Every few seasons, we sanded and painted the fence, did touchups on the kitchen cabinets, painted our floors, re-finished the wood kitchen countertops, and re-glazed the mullions in between the old glass windows.
We shared our home with family, friends, and others. We held large family reunions, youth group and men’s retreats, and hosted two large wedding receptions for our family and friends. The backyard was always full of people and activity. We also vacation rented, although at that time it wasn’t defined as a “short-term rental”. We were good friends with our neighbors and did all this within our right to use our private property as residential use.
I am now retired and 80 years old. Although we loved it, updating and maintaining a historic property became too difficult and we no longer own that home. In late 2015, we purchased a new home at 15 Delaney Road which was under construction at that time – there was a foundation in the ground and some exterior framing. We completed the building of our current newer home.
We continue to maintain good relationships with our neighbors surrounding our new home. While we still wash our own windows and do some maintenance and repairs, we now have a caretaker, a cleaning crew, painters, plumber, and landscapers. Our expenses have greatly increased; we rent more to pay for them. Being retired, we don’t mind leaving an open calendar, waiting to see what rents, and going to Nantucket more spontaneously when others may not wish to. We enjoy the home, along with our family and friends. We are not an unassociated “investor group”.
Christopher and Ann Quick, 62R Cliff Road, have asserted they have “experienced harm” from our home at 15 Delaney Road.
We would be concerned if any neighbor might feel inconvenienced by our family or any of our guests. Initially, when we first heard of Christopher and Ann’s complaint, we thought it must be a mistake, a typo on the street address. Neither the Quicks, their attorney, nor the town have ever contacted us with any concerns.
Christopher and Ann Quick have asserted harm due to traffic:
“Increased traffic”? We are perplexed. In between the Quick’s driveway and our driveway, there are two driveways on Cliff Road and an additional three driveways on Delaney Road. If the Quicks were to drive to the beach, into town, or to a store, it would be indirect and highly unusual to circle back onto a smaller road to drive by our home.
Our driveway can comfortably park 2 vehicles. I don’t believe we, nor our guests, have a habit of parking more than 2 cars in the driveway overnight. On the few occasions when 2 cars are in the driveway, that is only in the summer season. Our Nantucket based landscapers, cleaning crew, grocery delivery, and caretaker may park on the street. Their presence is not outside of “residential use” of our home, or any other Nantucket home.
Contrary to Christopher and Ann Quick’s claim, we are not a “commercial” operation. We do not run a catering business, car repair, nail salon, offer take-out meals, or other business out of our home.
If there is increased traffic in our neighborhood, could that possibly be due to other reasons? Before our home was built, there were two new homes built on Delaney Road, one of which was built on a vacant lot. Since our home was completed in 2016, and within approximately 350 feet of our driveway, we have watched 8 new homes built from the ground up and 4 additional homes receive major renovations. Most of those homes were built on empty lots, so it is reasonable to expect increased traffic due to the substantial neighborhood construction in recent years. We do not cause “traffic harm” that is unusual for residential use of our 4-bedroom home.
During these years we have occasionally been inconvenienced by contractors, excavation trucks, and caretakers of other homes unintentionally blocking us in our driveway. In the winter months, we have been surprised a few times by contractors parking in our driveway, assuming no one was in the house. We still preferred to purchase a house lot closer to town, rather than in a less populated area further away that may have had fewer of these inconveniences. That was our choice.
The Quicks and groups such as ACKNow may feign that a better use for our new home is for year-round housing, however, they are lacking foresight if they are complaining about increased traffic in the neighborhood. Those two go together. Our 4-bedroom and 5-bathroom home, comfortably accommodates eight. By anyone’s standard, our home is not considered “affordable housing”. However, hypothetically, it could easily accommodate eight year-round residents. If our home were rented year- round, it is more likely we would have four or even five vehicles on the property which would be a much greater impact on traffic year-round. Our home could accommodate those additional vehicles on the property in the same way as others who park on the front lawn. We are not, however, interested in renting year-round. We prefer to use the home ourselves.
Christopher and Ann Quick have asserted harm due to noise:
We have a good relationship with our neighbors and would be concerned if anything out of the ordinary had happened. We do not allow parties or events and have declined year-round island residents who have wished to host a party in our home.
Separating our home from the Quick’s 62R Cliff Road front driveway is a wetland area with thick growth. Furthermore, the Quick’s patio, pool, and outdoor living space are located on the other side of their home further away from us.
Our home abuts one other home with seasonal residents who are on-island all summer. Our rear patios are separated by a privet hedge. Over the years, we have consistently checked with them regarding our guests’ respectability. They have had our phone number and we have welcomed that they let us know if we ever needed to address anything; we have never had an issue. We have recently checked with six neighbors in the immediate vicinity of our home; all have confirmed there have been no issues.
If they had any issues at all, why did Christopher and Ann Quick not contact us, the police, our caretaker, or any of the island realtors we are listed with to communicate? Why have they never contacted us regarding this complaint?
After we heard from a third party about the Quick’s complaint to the Zoning Board of Appeals, I inquired if Christopher Quick would have a conversation with me. Christopher Quick refused to speak with me.
Although Christopher and Ann Quick stated that he and neighbors would further describe the “noise and traffic harm” during Zoning Board of Appeals hearing, nothing was presented.
Christopher and Ann Quick have asserted “harm as a result of the use of the Property exclusively as a STR.”
The Quick’s incorrect characterization of us “exclusively as a STR” fits a narrative that intends to incite fear of commercialization of Nantucket homes. It is ironic that they have chosen realtors’ online listings that contradict each other to validate their pre-conceived false notions without recognizing the obvious: The realtors must confirm if the house is available with the owner.
We do not “exclusively” rent; renting year-round and using our home are mutually exclusive. We also do not “exclusively” rent “short-term”.
Although only recently defined as rentals less than 31 days, “short-term rentals” have been legally taking place on Nantucket for over 100 years. We have legally rented 31 days or less, as allowed and taxed by the state of Massachusetts and the town of Nantucket. We have also legally rented over 31 days, although there are fewer guests with either the flexibility to work from home or ability to take over a full month’s vacation.
Christopher and Ann Quick have claimed we are operating a “pay-per-night” accommodation. Nantucket does not regulate the minimum number of nights that a home may be rented. Despite the Quick’s attempted characterization, we have never rented a single night. While many people are interested in visiting for events such as: Daffodil Festival, Wine Festival, Columbus Day, and Christmas Stroll, during those times it is unusual for people to take an entire week’s vacation. If we are not using the home at those times, the home may be available over a long weekend so others can enjoy those Nantucket festivities. Doing so has also made those island events more well-attended and our guests add to the Nantucket economy by shopping, visiting restaurants, hiring a chef, hiring grocery delivery, bicycle rentals, and cleaning services. Does renting less than seven nights in the off-season adversely affect the neighborhood? Is there more “noise and traffic” because the home sits empty mid-week? The answer is “No”. The Quick’s accusation is arbitrary and defamatory.
Regardless of how much or in what increments we rent our home; it is not “commercial” use. We do not have a bed and breakfast, nor a hotel. We have not put keyed locks on the individual bedroom doors and rented it out to separate families. Our home is private property and is not accessible to the public. It is used for residential purposes, families and friends preparing meals, eating, sleeping, and fellowship. Those using our home are using it in a residential way, no different than if we personally, or our family and friends, were coming and going for Nantucket visits.
Years ago, when we owned the old Nantucket home, we had a repeat vacation renter. It was a husband and wife that liked the area well enough to purchase 2 1⁄2 adjacent vacant house lots from Bonnie and me. That couple was Christopher and Ann Quick. They enjoyed the freedom to vacation rent from us, but now wish to deny others that same opportunity.
- Christopher and Ann Quick did not have a problem vacation renting from us.
- Christopher and Ann Quick vacation rented from us before buying property on Nantucket,
as several of our guests have done.
- Christopher and Ann Quick did not have a problem purchasing land from us with the
intent to build their own vacation home, next to our home, that vacation rented.
- While Christopher and Ann Quick feign concern for the shortage of year-round housing, they took a home out of the “year-round housing stock” and have left it vacant for the past three years.
In August 2019, Christopher and Ann Quick purchased 9 Delaney Road. 9 Delaney Road was part of Nantucket’s “year-round housing stock”; the prior residents were long time year-round Nantucket residents. Since the Quicks purchased 9 Delaney Road, the property has been vacant. The Quicks have left the yard unkempt, and the home has been allowed to go into disrepair.
Our home was not taken from the “year-round housing stock”. It was built on a vacant lot and did not exist prior to our building it. Despite Christopher and Ann Quick’s characterization of us, we clearly have not harmed year-round housing, while they have in fact done exactly that.
- There is concern for “investor groups” buying up multiple properties on Nantucket. A historical relationship with Nantucket does not allot special property rights, but in characterizing us as a disinterested “investor group” they have failed to perform even a cursory check on our family’s historical relationship with Nantucket. We own a single property on Nantucket and rent it for private residential purposes, in addition to using it ourselves. Conversely, Christopher and Ann Quick now own at least three Nantucket properties.
- Why have Christopher and Ann Quick failed to contact us and why have they incorrectly characterized us and singled us out with this unjustified attack? Christopher and Ann Quick themselves once enjoyed the freedom to vacation rent from us before buying property on Nantucket, but now they wish to deny others that same freedom to vacation rent. Like the other lawsuits recently instigated and supported by ACKNow, should Christopher and Ann Quick turn this into a frivolous lawsuit against the Town of Nantucket, wasting valuable tax dollars, and against Bonnie and me, a retired couple with an 80-year history on Nantucket, we will consider it slander and harassment.
Ralph and Bonnie Keith