BELMAR — Residents who live near the beachfront say they have had enough of house parties this summer and are pleading with the borough council to strengthen a borough ordinance governing “animal house” violations.
While residents have long complained of loud music and late-night parties on the south end of Belmar in the summer, many say this year has been particularly rough.
Kevin Manahan, who lives on 14th Avenue, said that conditions on his street have worsened this year. He said that summer renters “hold the neighborhood hostage.” He asked for the borough to reexamine its ordinance regarding summer-rental properties.
“The way it is written, it seems it is incumbent upon me as a property owner across the street to police the property of landlords who are not from Belmar,” Mr. Manahan said during the borough’s Aug. 18 meeting. He said there are five summer rental units near his home.
“It just seems like the way it is written, we have to be the ones who police this guy’s property for him.”
He added that the current ordinance did not force landlords “to put enough skin in the game.”
Under a current borough ordinance regarding rental properties, Section 26-11 of the borough code, rental properties with two complaints are required “to post a bond or equivalent security to compensate for any future damage or expense suffered from future repetition of disorderly, indecent, tumultuous or riotous conduct.” Bonds can cost a landlord between $500 and $5,000.
If a substantiated complaint is recorded against a landlord after bond is posted, the borough may start proceedings “for the forfeiture or partial forfeiture of the security.”
For some residents, the ordinance does not go far enough.
“Anecdotally I can tell you on my block it doesn’t work,” Mr. Manahan said. “I would exhort you to please take a look at this ordinance, think about if you need to rewrite this ordinance.”
The borough reports summer rentals with violations. As of Aug. 25, most violations have been given to properties between 12th and 18th avenues near the beach. Properties with the most number of summonses issued include 107 18th Ave., with seven violations; 216 18th Ave., with six violations; and 109 12th Ave. with five violations.
Robert Poff, director of the borough’s code enforcement department, said that he is aware of issues near Mr. Manahan on 14th Avenue.
“I came in on my day off just to address the 14th Avenue situation,” Mr. Poff said about reports of littering at rental properties. “I don’t know what else to do, but I have been keeping close attention to 14th Avenue. … We have to figure out what else we can do about this situation.”
There have been 14 summonses issued to four summer-rental properties on 14th Avenue.
“Even though we write a lot of summonses because of COVID this year and the way the court system is running, normally they would be on the next available court date for convictions, [but] it’s taking a little bit longer,” Mayor Mark Walsifer said. “I don’t want to say that our court isn’t working hard; this Zoom is killing our court system and we are working the best that we can to get these convictions.”
“I guarantee this: If they [property owners] have six summonses on that property just for noise, they will be coming this year to a hearing and I am sure it is going to hurt this time,” the mayor said, adding that it has been “a tough summer” for everyone.
“The enactment of this section is necessary and desirable to provide a means to curb and discourage those occasional excesses arising from irresponsible seasonal rentals,” according to the borough’s code.
At the end of the meeting on Aug. 18, the mayor said he would speak with the borough attorney about tightening the summer-rental ordinance in time for next summer.
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