Article 60 Creates Perilous Legal Situation For Nantucket
Gerald Muller •
To the editor: In prior years I wrote to the Select Board, Finance Committee and Heads of Administration objecting strenuously to a short-term rental article proposed by ACK-Now which discriminated against off island owners and represented a taking of property in violation of the United States Constitution for which the Town would be liable and would devastate Nantucket businesses and service providers by radically reducing the number of summer residents.
Article 60 is even more egregious.
It is discriminatory and palpably violative of federal rights, resulting in substantial reductions of tax revenues with cuts to Town staff. Recent letters to the editor by pro-Article 60 supporters trying to sway voters by offering their legal interpretation, though neither is a lawyer, are legally wrong and highly misleading.
I hope Nantucket voters see past this spin and listened to the town’s legal advisor, John Giorgio, speaking to the Select Board recently, summarizing Article 60 as “Dangerous.” He is correct.
Article 60 would have an extraordinarily negative impact on Nantucket’s restaurants and shops, various service providers, craftsmen and others who rely on a steady stream of vacationers. Moreover, and critically, it will undermine the financial stability of the Town itself by reducing revenues from the local excise tax and devaluing property.
As an attorney, I can state emphatically that Article 60 would place the Town in a perilous legal situation and expose it to enormous damages. As a matter of federal law, by curtailing owners’ property interests by arbitrarily limiting their ability to rent their properties represents a taking of those interests without just compensation. It is also so arbitrary and capricious as to raise serious due process issues.
I have handled many federal cases (as well as do a great deal of municipal work), and I assure you that the Town of Nantucket would be going down a dangerous path, dangerous to the Town itself and damaging to so many residents, many of whom rely upon a robust vacation season to support themselves and their families.
Please reject the highly misleading interpretations from Article 60 supporters and ACK Now, listen to your town’s legal advisor, read the report from U Mass and take a stand to protect our island, way of life and your property rights, and Vote No on Article 60.
Gerald J. Muller