SOUTH PORTLAND — A Portland District Court judge has terminated a temporary protection from harassment order that was issued against a supporter of controversial new short-term rental regulations during a recent repeal petition drive.

Judge Geoffrey Rushlau on Friday denied Michael Frabotta’s request to extend a temporary restraining order against Daniel Romano that was issued by the court on March 12. Rushlau found that Frabotta failed to prove Romano harassed him and so wasn’t entitled to a permanent restraining order lasting as long as two years.

Under Maine law, the definition of harassment includes “three or more acts of intimidation, confrontation, physical force or the threat of physical force …”

Last month, Frabotta and fellow petitioners collected 1,289 valid signatures from registered voters – well over the 1,000 needed to force the City Council to reconsider its 6-1 approval of new rules for Airbnb-style home rentals. The council is set to decide Tuesday whether to overturn its Feb. 20 vote or let the regulations go to a citywide referendum.

Tensions between supporters and opponents of the new rules escalated the weekend of March 10, when Frabotta and other petitioners were confronted by Romano and other residents who said they were “shadowing” petitioners who were overheard giving false or misleading information about the regulations.

That Saturday, petitioners called police several times, prompting Officer Andrew Nelson to issue a cease harassment notice to Romano based on a complaint filed by Frabotta. The following Monday, Frabotta went to court seeking a restraining order against Romano because, Frabotta said, he continued to feel threatened.

Romano maintained that he posed no threat; he merely stood near the petitioners and offered to provide additional information to voters before they signed the petition.

Frabotta’s petition forced the council to suspend the new short-term rental regulations from going into effect. At the center of the disputed regulations is a ban on unhosted stays in residential neighborhoods that city officials said is intended to stop people from buying and converting single-family homes into whole-house rentals.

The council is scheduled to hold a seventh public hearing on the issue and a reconsideration vote on Tuesday. If the council fails to repeal the rules, the city will hold a referendum on the regulations at an upcoming election.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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