Bed & Breakfasts, #2
August 12, 2015
On Monday, August 10, 2015, a
Village Board Work Session was held in the Community Center on Bell Street
in Bellport Village. Between 25 and 30 people attended rather than the more
usual zero to two. The meeting lasted about three hours, but the portion
regarding the new Bed & Breakfast Ordinance took about an hour of that time.
Here is what I think you need to know...
It seems there was a
procedural error (they made a mistake) in the way the new Ordinance was
brought up for a vote the first time at the July Village Board meeting,
so it’s going to have to be brought up again and voted on a second time
at another Village Board meeting. No mention was made of when that might
The Village Attorney said that
no changes in the Ordinance were planned and the same Ordinance brought
up for a vote the first time would simply be brought up again to be
voted on for a second time. Being that it was passed unanimously the
first time, it’s reasonable to assume the Village Board will again pass
this new Ordinance when it again comes up for a vote.
At one point in the meeting
the Mayor asked how many of those attending were in favor of B&B’s in
Bellport Village. Only one hand went up and that was from a woman who
has already indicated that she would like to open a B&B in the Village
At one point I tried to ask if
any of the Village Board members had any interest in opening a B&B in
the Village themselves and their reaction to my question was very strong
claiming that I had insulted them by asking the question. I asked the
question because I had heard from more than one source that this might
be the case and I thought the simplest way to put it to rest was to ask.
Bottom line, a few said no, the rest didn’t answer.
In numerous interviews given
by Mayor Fell to the press and TV stations, he has indicated that the
reason for the new B&B Ordinance was to promote “Tourism” in Bellport
Village. In fact in the Ordinance itself, under “Purpose and Intent” the
first thing it says is, “The Village Board recognizes that tourism is an
important factor in promoting the economic welfare of the Incorporated
Village of Bellport and that it is in the best interests of the Village
to ensure the continued growth of tourism trade. The Village Board also
recognizes that many tourists prefer lodging accommodations in
residential settings, which often offer more personalized services than
those provided in motels or hotels.”
At the Work Session, the Mayor seemed to deny that this is the purpose
of the new Village Ordinance or that he had ever said the new Ordinance
was about Tourism. Instead he claimed that the new Village Ordinance was
needed to allow and regulate B&B’s in Bellport Village. I’ll come back
to this point in a minute.
According to the B&B
Ordinance, as written, and the Village Attorney, this new Ordinance will
require that the owner of the B&B personally reside full time at the B&B
they are operating. We have received at least one opposing legal opinion
stating, “...the new law requires the owner of the property to both
occupy and operate the business. Under New York law, conditions of a
special permit cannot dictate how a business is to be operated. This
provision should be removed.”
Now, I don’t know which attorney is right, I’m not an attorney, but when
I asked the Village Attorney if this could be determined before the new
law is enacted, he said it would be up to the courts to decide after the
fact. That means we could end up with absentee owners or even
corporations operating B&B’s in the Village if the Village Board and the
Village Attorney are wrong. Do you want to take that chance?
I hope you’re still with me
because now we get to the interesting stuff!
The Village Attorney clearly stated that the Village Codes operate on a
“Permissive” system where the Code Book indicates what is permitted or,
what you can do. If the Code Book doesn’t specifically say you can do
something, it is against the law to do it. Please read that last
For instance, the Village Code clearly spells out what can be done in a
residentially zoned area of the Village. It doesn’t say you can’t run a
business in a residential area. It simply doesn’t mention businesses and
by not doing so, it means it’s illegal to run a business in a
residential area of the Village. Got that?
So, because the Village Code, as it is now on the books, doesn’t mention
Bed & Breakfast businesses, it means they are illegal in the Village of
Bellport. You can’t now run a B&B legally in the Village.
But, the Village Board says there are many B&B’s operating in the
Village illegally now. Why aren’t they doing anything about it? They say
it’s because no one has complained and if no one complains, they won’t
do anything. You can’t make this stuff up, but wait, it gets better.
I then asked the Village Board if it’s now illegal to operate a B&B in
the Village, but there are lots of people doing it, how will enacting a
new Village Ordinance that tries to regulate B&B’s cut back on these
illegal B&B’s? Won’t it still depend on whether or not residents
complain? The Board never really answered that question.
So, regardless of which side of
this issue you are on, when the Village Board again announces that they will
be considering and voting on the new Bed & Breakfast Ordinance, come out to
the meeting and let the Village Board hear from you. Better yet, send them
an email now. At the meeting they indicated that they had heard “loud and
clear” from the residents by the email messages they had received regarding
Bed and Breakfasts. Let them hear from you.
Please Click Here for a copy of the proposed B&B Ordinance as
published by Bellport Village.
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of the above, we'd be glad to consider printing your response. Please send
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