A federal magistrate has ruled that a man who sold his summer home but kept a nonbuildable lot in Aquinnah is not entitled to a parking permit to use Philbin Beach.
The decision sided with the town of Aquinnah in a case brought almost two years ago by John M. Callagy, who was denied a permit to the town beach off Moshup Trail after he sold his Aquinnah home in 2007. The beach was given to the town by J. Holladay Philbin in 1968 with a deed restriction that said the property was to be used “by all permanent and seasonal residents.”
Both Mr. Callagy and the town had sought summary judgment, which results in a case being decided short of a trial. A hearing on the motions was held in January and the 30-page decision was issued July 27.
Mr. Callagy, a New York lawyer who lives in Darien, Conn., in the off-season, owned a home on Oxcart Road in Aquinnah in 1986. In April 2007, he sold the house and 2.2 acres of land, but retained a 13,600-square foot piece of land which cannot be built on under Aquinnah’s zoning bylaw. Mr. Callagy now owns a house in Chilmark.
In granting summary judgment for the town, U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler said there was no evidence that the town had treated Mr. Callagy differently than other people in similar situations. Mr. Callagy had claimed among other things that the town had violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution by granting beach stickers to short-term renters and allowing anyone to walk onto the beach.
The judge noted that Mr. Callagy has obtained parking permits to use two Chilmark town beaches since he bought a house there in 2005. And the court said he provided no evidence that the town of Aquinnah had denied beach parking permits to other non-resident taxpayers.
Even though the town lets people who arrive on bikes or on foot use the beach without a permit because the beach is difficult to get to, “it still serves the purpose of preventing people from other towns from gaining access to use Philbin Beach,” the court ruled.