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Federal judge: Short-term rental law will stand

The major claims against the town in a lawsuit filed in federal court protesting the Shelter Island’s short-term rental law (STR) have been dismissed in a ruling late last month.

Six women — Julia Weisenberg, Dawn Fotopulos, Madeline Fotopulos, Michelle D’Arcambal, Janalyn Travis-Messer and Jennifer Lederman — in the suit filed in August 2017 in the Eastern District of New York, accused the town of violating their rights under federal, state and local laws, including the right to equal protection, due process, fundamental property rights and the town’s zoning regulations.

The plaintiffs asked for a “declaration that the STR law is a violation of Plaintiffs’ rights under the constitution of the United Sates and the State of New York.”

In a judgment issued on March 27, United States District Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall ruled that the STR law passed by the Town Board in April 2017 is legal in all respects except with certain aspects of the law’s restrictions on advertising, according to Town Attorney Robert DeStefano Jr. The plaintiff’s claim that the law set out penalties that were automatic, and not subject to due process, was also upheld by the court.

Mr. DeStefano said a new draft of the law — which will be subject to a public hearing on May 3 — would address these issues.

Joseph Clasen, one of the litigators for the plaintiffs against the town, told the Reporter that he and his colleagues believe the court’s decision was “incorrectly decided. We are weighing our options, including an appeal. In the meantime, we’re prosecuting our claims asserting violations of the First Amendment and right of privacy, which remain in the case.”