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Datri v. Incorporated Village of Bellport

August 17, 2006

F. JAMES DATRI, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE INCORPORATED VILLAGE OF BELLPORT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurley, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff F. James Datri ("Plaintiff") brings this suit alleging various claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 ("Section 1983"), 1985 ("Section 1985"), and New York State law against twenty defendants, including the Incorporated Village of Bellport (the "Village" or "Bellport") and Donald Mullins ("Mullins") (collectively, "Defendants"). Essentially, Plaintiff claims that Defendants improperly revoked his berthing license and denied him the right to use Village recreational facilities. Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The material facts, drawn from the Complaint and the parties' Local 56.1 Statements, are undisputed unless otherwise noted. Plaintiff is a resident of the hamlet of Brookhaven, New York, a non-incorporated area outside of the boundaries of the Village. Plaintiff owns a one-acre strip of land in the Village (the "Bellport property") upon which he has a small structure, sized approximately 14 feet by 30 feet, where Plaintiff keeps his boating supplies. The structure has no certificate of occupancy as a dwelling, and has no running water, electricity, or septic system. Plaintiff claims to occasionally sleep there during the summer months.

Prior to September 2003, Plaintiff kept a boat at the Village Marina in Bellport, pursuant to a licensing agreement. The berthing license or permit was good for one year and contained the following provision:

3) Permits may be revoked by the Village under the following conditions: . . . . e-If the use of the slip, in the opinion of the Village Board, affects the safety and welfare of the Village or its residents or the occupants of any other slip. (Decl. of Adam I. Kleinberg, dated July 29, 2005 ("Kleinberg Decl."), Ex. C.)

On July 13, 2003, Plaintiff sailed his boat from the Village Marina to the floating dock at Ho-Hum Beach, Fire Island, which is also owned by the Village. Upon his arrival, Plaintiff observed a boat berthed at the Ho-Hum dock that, in his view, was taking up too much space. Although the parties dispute the specifics, Plaintiff allegedly got into an altercation with the owner of the boat, as well as with several other individuals who were present at the dock.

Thereafter, Plaintiff received written notice to appear before the Village Board on July 29, 2003, to discuss his behavior at the Ho-Hum dock. Plaintiff appeared on that date and testified about the incident, as did two Village employees who were eyewitnesses to the altercation. By letter dated August 20, 2003, the Village Board informed Plaintiff that it had concluded that his conduct "was not only inappropriate and offensive but did threaten the use, safety and welfare of the Village employees, residents and boaters present at the Marina." (Kleinberg Decl. Ex. D.) Accordingly, the Board advised Plaintiff that his privileges to use the Village's recreational facilities, including the marina at Ho-Hum Beach, were revoked until December 31, 2004, and that he would lose his berthing permit. (Id.) The Village thereafter stayed its decision pending a further interview with defendant William Douglas Hodgson, the owner of the other boat involved in the altercation. By letter dated September 10, 2003, the Village advised Plaintiff that it would stand by its original decision. (Id. Ex. E.)

In 2004, the Village, after providing notice of the public hearing regarding the amendment, enacted section 23-3 of the Village Code, entitled "Resident," which provides as follows:

A "Resident" shall in all cases be a natural person, and further defined as:

1. An owner of residential real property within the Village, and members of their household, who routinely use such property for sleeping purposes, and with the intention of using the premises as a primary or secondary dwelling and not as a guest or visitor and where such property is not rented to others in excess of 4 months per year.

2. A lessee or renter of residential real property within the Village, and members of their household, who routinely use such property for sleeping purposes, and with the intention of using the premises as a primary or secondary dwelling and not as a guest or visitor, for in excess of four months of the year and who have provided to the Village Clerk an affidavit signed by the owner of the residential real property acknowledging the rental or lease of such property.

(Id. Ex. F.)

Section 23-1 of the Village Code, entitled "Purpose," sets forth the reasons for the enactment of section 23-3. Section 23-1 provides in pertinent part:

The Board finds that the recreational facilities and services provided by the Village of Bellport are: (1) generally, in great demand; and (2) have increased seasonal visitation in the Village by persons who are, in part, attracted to the Village by the availability of such facilities and services.

The Board further finds that the absence of a uniform definition of who is authorized as a resident to use such facilities and services has led to situations where use of the facilities and services by persons not residing within the Village have deprived bona fide Village residents of the use of said facilities or services. Accordingly, it is the intent of the Village Board to establish a uniform definition of the term 'Resident' as that term applies to the use of Village recreational facilities and services; to provide for a means of residency ...


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