The Village News: Editorials

June 24, 2020

Bellport Village Rental Law: Null and Void!


EditorialOn June 10, 2020, the Supreme Court of the State of New York determined that the Bellport Village Rental Law, adopted on February 26, 2018, is Null and Void.

There were five issues raised in the law suit brought against Bellport Village. The first issue, or Cause of Action, was that the Bellport Village Board “failed to submit the final version of the Rental Law to the Suffolk County Planning Commission for review and recommendation prior to the Law’s adoption,” “therefore, said Rental Law is null and void.” “Indeed, under the statute, the Board was mandated, “before taking final action,” to refer the final version to the Suffolk County Planning Commission.”

The Second Cause of Action claimed that the Village violated the State’s Open Meetings Law. It claimed that the Mayor and Trustees continued to meet and discuss the proposed Village Rental Law without proper public notice. The Court said, “it is apparent that conversations between the Mayor and the Village residents occurred off-the-record after the January 22, 2018 public hearing was closed” however, the Court found that sufficient notice had been given prior to the February 26, 2018 final vote so, the “Second Cause of Action is hereby denied.”

The Third Cause of Action, the Limitation of the Number of Rentals, was granted. The Court found that the Village’s “Rental Law is arbitrary and capricious and unconstitutional.” It “is without rational support and carries no legitimate governmental health, safety, or welfare concern and violates the Due Process requirements of the New York Constitution” The Court determined that the “Rental Registration Law is null and void.” and cited the following exchange that took place between Pam Hannon and Mayor Fell at the February 26, 2018 Village Board Meeting:

“Ms. Hannon: ... If you would please explain to me and everybody here what was the reasoning behind five different rentals for that particular season? Why five rentals whether it’s a day, a week, or a month? If you will tell me.

Mayor Fell: Well, we picked - - we looked at the number five and we just thought that if someone rented five times within that period... that would give enough spaced out time that there wouldn’t be someone there every weekend. Although with this there could be someone there for five weeks in a row, but then there would be no more rentals for that period of time.... We talked about three rentals, five rentals, eight rentals, and we’re going to try five and see how it works. We’ll look at it again in October next year or November and see, you know, where we made mistakes and where we’re going to correct....”

The Court continued, “The arbitrary and capricious nature of the Rental Law is also evidenced in the record of the public hearing on February 26, 2018, during which the following questions and answers between the petitioners’ counsel and the Mayor ensued.

Mr. Snead: ... I’m looking at the summary [Sec. 25-1, Legislative Intent] and it indicates that the purpose of this proposal is to prevent neighborhood blight. Can you explain to me how this document or this proposal is to prevent neighborhood blight?

Mayor Fell: I’m not going to explain it - -

Mr. Snead: Can you explain it to me?

Mayor Fell: Yes, but I’m not going to –

Mr. Snead: ... How does it protect residential property values?

Mayor Fell: I’m not going to explain any of that.

Mr. Snead: Okay. How does it help you manage the effects of village amenities?

Mayor Fell: I’m not going to answer that either.

Mr Snead: Have you anywhere identified how that happens?

Mayor Fell: No.

The Fourth Cause of Action, Pre-Existing, Non-Conforming Use was denied and found moot because the Court had already found the Village’s Rental Registration Law to be Null and Void, not because it wasn’t a valid claim.

The Fifth Cause of Action, “Money Had and Received” and Sixth Cause of Action “Unjust Enrichment,” and to compel the Village to re-pay homeowners for the unlawful permit fees, were both put off to a later date and there will be a Preliminary Conference held at 9:30am on August 13, 2020. The Court granted that time to allow the Village and the Plaintiff’s counsel the opportunity to identify those who paid the illegal fees, and to determine how they will be repaid.

Where do we go from here? I have no idea, but the arrogance shown here by Mayor Fell is concerning. Whether it’s how residents are treated at Village Board meetings, residents not being allowed to ask questions at Village Board Meetings, Work Sessions, or Budget Meetings, huge sums of monies being spent at the golf course, marina, and the final disposition of the Ho Hum Beach Pavilion without what I feel is proper oversight, it’s time for a change. It’s time for new blood on the Village Board.

Click Here to read the Court’s decision

Click Here to listen to the February 26, 2018 Public Hearing and Vote on the then proposed Bellport Village Rental Law.



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Larry Sribnick

Larry Sribnick