BRIDGEPORT -- A Superior Court judge Tuesday refused to find the owners of Fairfield Beach cottages in contempt of court for allowing Fairfield University students to hold a large raucous party there last May.

While Judge William Rush acknowledged the disturbance caused to area Fairfield Beach residents by the large party of more than 200 students, he nevertheless ruled there was no evidence the cottage owners allowed the party to take place.

"The problems caused to the plaintiffs, who live in the immediate vicinity of the defendant's property, are real and significant the issue however is not empathy for the plaintiff, but rather whether the defendant should be found in contempt for violation of an injunction issued by the court," Rush stated.

Joel Green, who represents Fairfield Beach residents, said he was disappointed with the ruling.

"We are reviewing the matter including a possible action against the individual landlords and tenants to enjoin the nuisance that exists," he said. "In addition to impairing the enjoyment of my clients and their neighbors of their property the situation is costing the town thousands of dollars in policing and trying to control the conduct."

For more than 10 years Fairfield Beach residents have been battling the owners of a group of cottages on the beach known as the Lantern Point Association who rent their cottages to Fairfield University students.

In April 2001 the residents convinced a judge to impose an injunction on the Lantern Point owners after a student party known as the Clam Jam got out of hand when it was attended by hundreds of students who rampaged through the neighborhood urinating in the neighbors' gardens and strewing trash about the area. The injunction prevented the Lantern Point owners from allowing parties of more than 250 students to take place on their property and pretty much ended the yearly Clam Jam.

But last May the beach residents came back to court after more than 500 students attended a party at Lantern Point. Police were called to the scene and made 26 arrests.

During a subsequent court hearing, the cottage owners admitted more than 250 students had attended the party, but they claimed they had made efforts to keep the crowd size down and immediately called police when it appeared the party was getting out of hand.