Middle considers nuisance property ordinance

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – Township officials are targeting nuisance rental properties by holding landlords accountable.

An ordinance introduced Feb. 20 by Township Committee would help keep the peace and tranquility of the municipality by addressing such incidents as excessive noise or harassment.

Landlords would be required to pay a bond or security to the township if at least two different incidents happen within a year at their rental property.

Some rentals in Middle Township have had a high amount of calls to the police, but Township Police Chief Chris Leusner could not pinpoint the locations.

Motels would also fall under the ordinance. Most motels in the township are in the Rio Grande section.

In an interview with The Gazette last year, a motel owner in Rio Grande said motels were looking for a way to cut down on the number of times emergency responders come to the properties.

The ordinance specifically deals with disorderly, indecent, noisy and riotous behavior, including simple assault, assault, terroristic threats, harassment, criminal mischief and excessive noise.

Leusner said the nuisance rental properties ordinance is the same one as used in Wildwood, which saw “some success.”

“It’s no secret that this ordinance is designed to try to help us manage certain nuisance properties that are in our community,” said Mayor Dan Lockwood. “We hope that this is just another step in our efforts to try to control some quality of life issues in areas that are suffering from behavior.”

Under the ordinance, the bond would not be less than $500 or more than $5,000 and be paid to Middle Township for preventing and prosecuting incidents. Whether a landlord would be required to post a bond would be determined at a hearing.

People will be able to have their say on the ordinance March 18 before Township Committee votes. That meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Township Hall, 33 Mechanic St. in Cape May Court House.

Township Committee Tim Donohue did not return a call for more information Thursday afternoon.

In other business, Township Committee:

• approved a resolution moving Deborah Baker as a keyboarding clerk from the police department to municipal court, effective March 4.

• approved a resolution acknowledging the termination of Jill DeRobertis as a keyboarding clerk in the tax collection department, effective Feb. 15.

• approved $8,041 in unused vacation and sick time for Carol Fiore who retired earlier this year as a municipal court keyboarding clerk.

• approved a resolution making William Markee and Leroy Sneathen as permanent part-time laborers from temporary part-timers, effective Feb. 20.

• approved contracting with David Stefankiewicz as Planning Board solicitor at a cost not be more than $36,000; Victoria A. Steffen as Zoning Board solicitor not to receive more than $23,000; and Vincent Orlando as Zoning Board engineer to be paid from township escrow accounts.

• approved a resolution for a social affairs permit so the Middle Township Baseball Association can sell alcohol at an event May 10 at the Stone Harbor Golf Club on Route 9, Cape May Court House.

• approved a resolution appointing Mary Champion as a police officer, effective Feb. 13. Her salary is $33,101. Mayor Dan Lockwood swore her in, and her father, Robert Champion, a retired North Wildwood Police officer, stood with her.

• approved naming Stephen Deliniski as a Special Class II police officer. He will be paid $7.50 an hour and his effective start date is May 3. Class II officers help regular officers and are not replacements.

• approved an amended ordinance for hours at the skateboard park at the Clarence and Georgiana Davies Sports Complex. According to acting recreation director Tammy Devitt, the park can be used when the Baker Center is open; hours are usually 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays. The skateboard park is at 626 Goshen Road Cape May Court House.

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