Residents of the city of Dunkirk speak out against short-term rentals | News, Sports, Jobs

John Warren of Virginia attended the Dunkirk city board meeting wearing a shirt that read ‘Stupid Dunkirk Person’ in support of his parents and other members of the Dunkirk community opposed to properties short term rental. Photos by Braden Carmen

DUNKERQUE – More than 20 members of the community were present at the Dunkirk city council meeting on Tuesday. Of the 15 speakers to make public comments, the overwhelming majority shared the position that short-term rentals are not welcome in their community. Public comments on the issue accounted for 51 of the 75 minutes of the Dunkirk city board meeting.

Dave Maternowski, a resident of Dunkirk, was the first to speak. “People are there. We’ve been here for a year.” he said.

Maternowski spoke about concerns about single-lane roads in an affected part of the community, specifically Shorewood Drive and Woodlands Drive. “One (short-term rental property) is a game-changer. … You now go from three extra cars to six extra cars. … I can’t imagine an ambulance or a fire truck driving down these roads when they start to turn into a small business district,” Maternowski said. “…I look at my neighborhood and I can easily tell that’s what we don’t want. We don’t want this congestion.

Dunkirk resident Phil Leone shared a petition with the board, signed by 87 people, in favor of keeping short-term rentals out of town. “The roads are narrow, the land is narrow. It is not appropriate to let strangers or other people enter these grounds. It would devastate my neighborhood,” said Dunkirk resident William Wright. “I’ve been very lucky to have good neighbors everywhere and I want it to stay that way.”

Many speakers made reference to a property on Woodlands Drive which they believe is still in use as a short-term rental property, although they believe the issue has been resolved.

“The zoning board made a 5-0 decision that short-term rentals were not permitted in the city. Since then, four times people from out of state have been there – Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. We notified the city law enforcement officer…he hasn’t enforced this yet. What are we going to do about the application? … If you have 10, 15, who knows how many of them on the lake, who is going to enforce that? We can’t even apply one of them,” said Leon.

The only speakers opposing the position against short-term rental properties were Matt Bromberg, his wife Brooke Pennica Bromberg and his mother Maggie Bromberg, all of whom asked the council to consider short-term rentals on properties larger and more isolated as the one Bromberg owns and maintains.

“My situation is a bit special. I’m on the east side with over 20 acres on the lake. I’ve been doing a short term rental there for a few years now and haven’t had any issues,” said Matt Bromberg. “I share your concerns and I hear you. … If there’s another answer that’s not so black and white, I’m willing to volunteer my time to be on some sort of committee to help figure that out. … I don’t want to lose what I have there.

Bromberg resides in Connecticut, but often visits Dunkirk and stays on his land when visiting.

“I love coming here, and when I’m here I want to be on my land. But financially it helps to have that rental income and I can block out that time when my family wants to come,” said Bromberg.

“Not all properties are alike and not all vacation rental owners are investment property owners. … My husband bought his land with this community in mind, not because he was actively looking to make money from it. This is where we like to be,” Bromberg’s wife, Brooke, added. “28 acres is very different (from many other short-term rental properties in Dunkirk). …While there is a place in the code to allow for different regulations with respect to size or neighborhood… not everything is the same.

Maggie Bromberg also urged the council to consider arrangements to allow her son’s property to continue to be used as a short-term rental.

“I’m just wondering if there might be some flexibility in the code – maybe some criteria if you want to run (a short-term rental) where you have to meet certain things,” said Maggie Bromberg. “If you could have some sort of criteria for people to continue to have what I call an ‘Airbnb model,’ that would be great for the community.”

Another interested party was John Warren, who now lives in Virginia but has spent much of his life in the Dunkirk community. Warren visited his former home and made his thoughts known, wearing a white shirt taped down the front with the words “Stupid person from Dunkirk” written on tape in marker. The demonstration referred to a comment made by a neighbor of his parents – who operates a short-term rental – during a web call when he felt his microphone was muted.

“I wore this shirt today…to remind everyone of the type of individual we’re talking about who lives next door to my parents,” said Warren. “This individual, on a Zoom call, forgot to mute the sound, and when people were talking, his comments were ‘I’m just listening to those stupid people from Dunkirk.’ If that doesn’t reflect what you should fear entering our quarters, I don’t know what else will.

Warren offered a defense from his parents, who shared the sentiments of the majority of participants opposed to short-term rental properties in the city of Dunkirk. He made reference “The Lake Etiquette” and declared, “The investors next door, they don’t have any. They said it very clearly. They only care about getting their $500 a night.

Warren, a childhood friend of Matt Bromberg, also defended Bromberg’s peculiar situation. Warren was the last public speaker to address the council.

“I believe Mr. Bromberg has a unique situation, and I think if the city is looking to do the right thing, it should take into account that 28 acres is very different from homes on Woodlands Drive or lower on Shorewood. “, said Warren.

Warren also thanked the board for their service to the community, playfully stating, “It’s probably the most thankless job you can do, outside of being a youth sports referee – because being yelled at after missing a call at an 8-year-old’s football game years is by far the worst.”

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