Lawsuit: Residents denied membership renewal
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More than a dozen Mastic Beach residents, including former Mayor Paul Breschard, have filed suit against the local property owners association, alleging the group caused them financial loss and emotional stress when it declined to renew their memberships.
The lawsuit, filed June 1 in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, also alleges the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association board of directors caused Breschard and 13 other plaintiffs embarrassment, humiliation and mental and physical anguish, court documents show.
"We've been blacklisted," said Breschard, noting the names of 27 individuals, including the 14 plaintiffs, were posted in a local marina last June 30, with an advisory that none of those listed be allowed to use certain village facilities.
Breschard alleged the association, which has about 200 members who pay annual dues of about $80, prevented him and others from using the clubhouse, boat docks, marina slips and pump-out stations.
In the suit, the plaintiffs say they were members of the decades-old property owners association for at least two years ending in 2010.
But the plaintiffs say they were denied a 2011 renewal membership after they signed a petition opposing the spending of membership fees toward a campaign against the incorporation of the village, which took place 22 months ago.
Breschard, 62, became the village's first mayor. He abruptly quit in February, citing an "untenable relationship" with the board of trustees as a critical factor.
Breschard said a letter he wrote to the association board complaining of the membership denials did not receive a response.
"What kind or organization is this, where you can't disagree with the association?" he asked.
The association was created several decades ago to administrate and allow property owners access to the water, the clubhouse and other amenities, the former mayor said.
Robert Debona, a board member named in the suit, referred questions to Port Jefferson attorney John Andrews.
"There's a lot of lies going on here, and we're going to handle this to the best of our ability," Debona said.
Andrews, reached by phone, described the dispute as "sour grapes. It's a private organization; you're not guaranteed a membership."
Breschard acknowledged the private nature of the organization but said it shouldn't be held up "like a country club."
The former members, who say they were denied readmittance without explanation, say they have suffered lasting emotional damage and that the association board engaged in reckless, malicious and unlawful actions, the suit states.
They seek a jury trial along with financial and punitive damages, attorney fees and further relief the court deems proper, court records show.