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MAYBEE v. TOWN OF NEWFIELD

April 4, 1992

GARY L. MAYBEE AND MARIANNE J. MAYBEE, Plaintiffs,
v.
TOWN OF NEWFIELD, JAMES DRADER, JR., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEWFIELD TOWN SUPERVISOR; CHARLES BERGGREN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEWFIELD TOWN COUNCILMAN; FREDERICK R. KIPPOLA, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEWFIELD TOWN COUNCILMAN; EVERD LAMPILA, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEWFIELD TOWN COUNCILMAN; DAVID S. PALMER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEWFIELD TOWN COUNCILMAN; EDWARD HUGHES, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NEWFIELD TOWN CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, Defendants.


McCurn


The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEAL P. MCCURN

NEAL P. McCURN, C.J.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

 INTRODUCTION

 Plaintiffs commenced this action in early July, 1991. They contend that the Town of Newfield, through its Supervisor, Town Council, and Code Enforcement Officer violated their procedural and substantive due process rights guaranteed to them by the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, plaintiffs claim that this court has jurisdiction to hear this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983.

 Defendants now move for summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the grounds that it fails to state a cognizable cause of action against them. The individual members of the Town Council and the Town Supervisor allege that they are absolutely immune from suit because plaintiffs' allegations against them concern their legislative duties. See Defendants' Memorandum of Law at 7. Defendant Hughes, the Town Code Enforcement Officer, contends that he is entitled to qualified immunity because he performed his duties in good faith and with the reasonable belief that he acted within constitutional and statutory bounds. See Defendants' Memorandum of Law at 7. In addition, defendants move for sanctions pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 11.

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiffs own property within the Town of Newfield ("Town") on which they operate "Maybee's Hillside Oaks Mobile Home Park." Originally, they intended to have 20 mobile homes in this park. Prior to the enactment of Local Laws Nos. 2 and 3 (hereinafter jointly referred to as the "MHP Law"), the laws at issue here, plaintiffs began to construct the infrastructure of the park, including the water system, roads, drainage system and nine mobile homes. See Plaintiffs' Complaint at para. 11. On July 26, 1989, and August 23, 1989, the Town adopted the MHP Law. Local Law No. 2 was entitled "Mobile Home Park Regulation and Licensing Local Law of the Town of Newfield." Local Law No. 3 was an amendment to this law. See Defendants' Exhibits C and D.

 According to plaintiffs, the MHP Law imposed new, additional, more burdensome, and more expensive requirements for mobile home parks than had previously existed. See Plaintiffs' Complaint at para. 12. Furthermore, plaintiffs allege that because they commenced development of their mobile home park prior to enactment of the MHP Law they possess a vested prior nonconforming use protected by both the State and Federal Constitutions. See Plaintiffs' Complaint at para. 13. As such, plaintiffs claim that their right to complete and operate their mobile home park in a manner consistent with the law as it existed prior to the enactment of the MHP Law is a protected property interest within the meaning of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See id.

 On February 13, 1990, the Town Council and the Supervisor held a hearing on the issue of whether to grant plaintiffs a license to operate a mobile home park under the MHP Law. See Plaintiffs' Complaint at paras. 15, 16. Plaintiffs claim that the Town Council heard no one, including plaintiffs, speak at this meeting. Rather plaintiffs contend that the Town Council issued a written decision on March 30, 1990, which allowed plaintiffs to operate the park only if they met numerous additional requirements:

 Licensee shall construct, operate and maintain premises in compliance with all requirements of Local Law No. 2 for 1989, as amended, including doing work necessary with respect to, but not limited to, roadways, trash removal areas, lighting, parking and driveways, deck and patio requirements, shed location and type, landscaping requirements, tank location and cover and all other conditions set forth below. . . .

 See Plaintiffs' Complaint at para. 15 and Exhibit J.

 Plaintiffs allege that as a result of these new requirements, they have been unable to complete development of their mobile home park. They contend that defendants' actions in requiring plaintiffs to conform to the MHP Law are arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable and have deprived plaintiffs of the use of their property without due process of law. See Plaintiffs' Complaint at para. 18. In addition, plaintiffs contend that the actions of the Town Code Enforcement Officer, Mr. Hughes, in issuing appearance tickets to plaintiffs for their failure to abide by the MHP Law are arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of process in violation of their procedural and substantive due process rights. See Plaintiffs' Complaint at para. 28.

 DISCUSSION

 A. Plaintiffs' Federal Due Process claims

 Section 1983 reads in pertinent part:

 every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in ...


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