By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
VENTNOR – After months of discussing it and holding several public hearings, the Board of Commissioners Thursday, May 25 scheduled one more public hearing before it adopts its short-term rental ordinance.
The board was set to adopt the ordinance advertised for a public hearing on May 25, but after hearing from several short-term rental operators who own 3-bedroom or more properties, the board agreed to amend the ordinance to reduce the minimum stay to three nights, instead of five.
A public hearing will be held on the ordinance revision only at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 8, before the commissioners vote on the adoption of the entire ordinance.
One operator who spoke during Thursday’s public hearing said requiring a five-night stay would preclude their properties from being rented on three-day holiday weekends when larger families are likely to celebrate a weekend at the shore.
“Properties will go vacant,” the operator said.
Another said requiring a five-night stay for three-bedroom properties “would kill local business” as tenants would likely eat at home and not patronize local eateries like they would if they were only staying for a few nights.
All three commissioners agreed to a compromise reducing the minimum number of nights for larger properties from five nights to three nights. However, the requirements for studios and one-bedroom units will remain a minimum of one night, and two-bedroom units will remain at two nights.
Properties may not be rented to anyone under age 21 and owners must prominently post an emergency contact number inside the unit.
The annual fees for obtaining an annual mercantile license will remain unchanged at $500 for a studio or one-bedroom unit, $750 for a two-bedroom unit, and $1,000 for three bedrooms or more.
The ordinance applies to short-term rentals on a year-round basis.
Mayor Lance Landgraf said the city is trying to balance the needs of residents, short-term rental operators and local businesses, and that the ordinance could be changed in the future.
“We don’t have the final answer,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes at the end of summer.”
Contracts signed prior to when the ordinance is adopted will be “grandfathered” for the summer season.
In other business, the board held public hearings and adopted ordinances upping the penalties for operating motorized vehicles on the boardwalk, requiring contractors to install 2-foot plywood fences around construction sites to contain the spread of construction debris, and requiring owners of rental properties to ensure their properties are free of lead-based paints.
The board also appointed John Baker, MD to a three-year term on the Board of Education, hired five Class I officers, three Emergency Medical Technicians, 30 beach tag checkers and numerous recreation supervisors and camp counselors for the summer season. It also approved allowing free parking in certain areas during Friday morning Farmers Market hours this summer.
Additionally, the city hired former Police Chief Michael Miller to assist the Police Department with obtaining reaccreditation from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police. Miller originally obtained accreditation for the department and his clerkship will free up time for the department’s full-time officers to do police work. He will earn $28 per hour.
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