Greenport village board debates controversial rental law

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Village board members agreed to fund $1 million dollars worth of improvements to the power plant Monday.

Greenport Village Board members are split over the village’s proposed rental law for residential properties.

In an unusual move, the board took up discussion of the issue during its regular session Monday night. Debate over pending policies are typically reserved for work sessions.

All agreed the language of the document, which has been called “cruel,” “unjust, and “over the top” by critics during public hearings, needs adjustment.

Trustees took particular issue with the draft law’s definition of a family. Under the proposal a family is defined as two or more persons related by blood and up to five persons not related by blood occupying a dwelling and living together as a traditional family.

Local landlords have repeatedly called the plan racist and unnecessarily restrictive.

“Some issues need to be addressed, such as definition of a family,” said Trustee David Murray. “I’m still in favor of the law. I think we need this to protect the citizens of Greenport.”

The law has been four years in making, Mayor David Nyce said. Village officials have said the code would help eliminate illegal apartments, which can lead to excessive traffic, parking problems, a strain on municipal services and general public health and safety concerns.

“At this point I feel like we have a fairly well written piece of legislation,” Mr. Nyce said. “I looked at the definition of family after last month’s meeting. It allows for people to be connected other than blood relation. It says they should be acting like a family and what families do is support each other.”

Trustees George Hubbard and Mary Bess Phillips stated their opposition to the bill Monday.

“It think it needs more work,” Mr. Hubbard said. “We have laws on the books now that would accomplish this if we just enforced what we had.”

All members, including the mayor, believe the threat of imprisonment should be removed for violators. Fines would still be enacted.

The board directed the village attorney to revise the legislation. It will be re-noticed and discussed at the next village meeting, the mayor said.

Last month, the board closed the public hearing on the issue, but has not yet scheduled a resolution to vote on the draft law.

[email protected]