Bellport’s Village Board tabled a proposal to regulate short-term rentals, which was set for a public hearing Mondy night.
In lieu of the proposal, the village will sell ID cards to renters on the following conditions: the renter will be required to pay a fee for the ID card, yet to be set; the renter must produce a prima facie valid lease agreement and the ID will be issued for the term of the lease; for the period in which ID is effective, the validity of the lessor’s IDs will be suspended.
As for quality-of-life issues, noise and other complaints about abuses by renters will be carefully monitored. Upon receiving a valid complaint, code enforcement will issue summonses to the owners of the property. If summonses are outstanding, no further IDs will be issued for such property until paid. Those complaints will be maintained for further analysis.
Mayor Ray Fell said no one commented about the proposal’s tabling or the shortterm rental laws at the Zoom meeting.
As for the tabling’s impetus, Fell pointed to the lawsuit filed by Bellport resident and attorney Lee Snead challenging the village law on rentals, Fell said.
Concerns had started cropping up in the village regarding unruly weekend parties and other issues, as more and more rentals took place. The village law, passed in February 2018, initiated a rental season from the Friday prior to Memorial Day weekend through the Sunday following Labor Day and other specifics. The fee to register was $250 for two years.
“We had several meetings about the law,” Fell said. “Everyone understood the main rentals were for the summer season and some people didn’t want to be restricted. So that became the issue with the lawsuit.”
Snead’s lawsuit, filed with New York State Supreme Court in 2019, won, with the Hon. William G. Ford ruling the law was arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional.
Snead said the case was brought as a class action.
“The issue is the constitutionality of what the village did or didn’t do,” Snead told the Advance. “What we were challenging was the restriction on the number of times a resident could rent out their house; the village set a limit of five times and we argued it was arbitrary and took away property rights. The court upheld it and invalidated the law.”
The case also recovered rental permit fees paid by the owners of the property. “The judge continued the case as part of this decision,” he said.
Fell said the fees have been returned. “The checks have gone out,” he confirmed.
According to village attorney Dave Moran, “The court voided out the law for procedural errors in its implementation and other issues, and the village plans on revisiting it in the future. It was tabled Monday night and the village will take its time.”
Fell said last summer, the ferry, which usually traversed to Ho Hum Beach with 42 people, only took half that amount. “We were redoing the dock and the cables hadn’t been installed yet, so we didn’t have electricity there,” he said. “It was a difficult time at the beach and we had no guests for a while. So we didn’t sell guest books due to the ferry capacity.
“We have to set the rates for the ferry and ID cards and haven’t got to that point yet.”