By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
MARGATE – It’s going to be a lot quieter in Margate next summer. To improve “quality of life” during the city’s congested summer months, the Board of Commissioners Thursday, Sept. 1 introduced two ordinances they hope will reduce complaints that go along with building those massive vacation homes.
On the docket for a public hearing and approval at the Sept. 15 commissioners’ meeting, are two ordinances addressing noise complaints from residents who say their summer vacations are ruined with the noise generated by construction, excavation, pile driving and power washing. If approved, the ordinances will shave 90 minutes from a contractor’s summer work schedule.
Ordinance 2022-16 reduces the hours contractors can work from June 15 to Sept. 15, when the town triples in density. Construction, excavation, pile driving and power washing will be permitted from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The commissioners agreed to shorten time at the start and end of the contractor workday, and for the first time included landscaping contractors to the list of regulated trades. No work can be performed on Sundays.
From Sept. 16 to June 14, the hours for construction, repairs and power washing are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for landscapers. Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In addition to no work on Sundays, no commercial work is permitted on certain holidays, including New Years, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Contractors will not be stopped from working indoors after the posted hours during the fall, winter and spring months when windows are closed and noise is at a minimum.
Homeowners and tenants will get a little more time to do their chores. Lawn mowers, chain saws and power washing equipment, weed whackers, lawn edgers and hedge trimmers may be operated by property owners or tenants from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A second ordinance, 2022-17, requires landscaping contractors to obtain a $50 mercantile license and display a sign on their vehicles stating they have been licensed by the city. It also requires them to refrain from blowing grass clippings and leaves onto another property, and that the clippings must be collected and disposed of properly. The ordinance refers to the operating hours outlined in Ordinance 2022-16.
According to Commissioner John Amodeo, landscapers with large trailers block traffic on streets when they sometimes park illegally to service several homes on a street.
The ordinance revisions were recommended by Administrator Richard Deaney who stated the changes would help the city improve quality of life issues not only for summertime visitors but also for year-round residents.
“The vast majority of complaints come during the summer season, and that’s when we have congestion, parking, noise and deliveries (happen),” he said.
Police Chief Matthew Hankinson confirmed residents file complaints with the Police Department mostly during the summer months.
“Ninety percent of the calls come in later in the day, not the beginning of the day,” he said.
The commissioners discussed reducing each end of the workday by an hour, but Commissioner Maury Blumberg recommended a compromise of a half-hour reduction of time in the morning.
“The big thing is, no matter what we decide, it has to be enforced,” he said. “It has no teeth if we don’t have the manpower.”
Blumberg suggested adding funds to next year’s budget to provide the Building Department with additional help for inspections and enforcement during the summer months.
Mayor Michael Becker said he does not believe in passing ordinances that can’t be enforced.
Building Inspector Jim Galantino said the department has been enforcing cleanliness at job sites to ensure that sidewalks are free of debris, “tidy” and “safe,” he said.
“We tell them they will not get any more inspections unless the site is clean,” he said. “If you continue to violate the hours of construction, we are going to deny you your permits. We will stop the job, which hurts them in the pocket.”
Galantino said a flyer with regulations would be made available to contractors in order to be “proactive, not reactive.”
Although public infrastructure improvements are scheduled for the off-season, home building continues throughout the year, causing disturbances for residents, officials said. The commission has made it a priority this year to improve the atmosphere in neighborhoods so visitors, who are the lifeblood of the shore community, can enjoy their vacations worry free. The city previously adopted ordinances restricting demolitions and pool building from June to September.
In other business, the board approved introduction of an ordinance creating the position of assistant superintendent of the city’s Water and Sewer Utility. The ordinance revises an existing hourly rate position to a salary range of $85,000-$125,000.
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