Council approves ‘event houses’ regulations in Cape May

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CAPE MAY — City council on Tuesday approved regulating large gatherings like receptions and graduation parties at rentable properties in Cape May.

Mayor Edward J. Mahaney Jr. said complaints with the large gatherings at certain properties, also known as event houses, arose in the last 2-3 years. 

The ordinance defines an event house as a dwelling that is used, maintained and/or advertised as a destination for a gathering of guests who are not living at the building. If there are more than 30 people at the building, it’s considered an event house.

In a previous interview, Mahaney indicated that the event houses disrupt the health, welfare and safety of a city that has narrow streets and, to some extent, limited parking. Event houses include large tents, outdoor bathrooms, generators, food service, alcohol, music and more.

Also on Tuesday, city council amended the event houses ordinance so that windows at homes with large gatherings must be closed by 9 p.m. to prevent music from being amplified.

For the most part, event homes are focused in center of Cape May, where the buildings are closer together, according to Mahaney. Under the ordinance, event houses are restricted to the C-3 Zoning District, which most includes hotels and motels.

Events at the homes cannot be scheduled July 1 through Labor Day, so tourism season is not disrupted, according to the ordinance.

Under the ordinance, the number of people inside the homes should not be more than the lesser of 50 or the maximum occupancy limit for inside events and 125 for outside events.

A licensing fee would cost $300 a year. Event homes would also be subject to inspections, according to the ordinance. People who occupy a home for more than 90 days are able to hold events without a license.

City officials began working on the regulations in 2013. The city’s planning board reviewed the ordinance Feb. 25 and sent it to city council for its approval.

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