STRATHMERE – An ordinance requiring jitneys in Upper Township to obtain a license was approved last week, with officials saying they are also working on a resolution authorizing jitney hours and routes.
Upper Township Committee approved the ordinance unanimously at its April 10 meeting. The move comes after some Strathmere residents complained about the proliferation of jitneys there last year.
Christine Furey, who spoke against the jitneys in 2016, said she supported the ordinance for safety reasons. But she said she was wary of more jitneys coming to Strathmere at all hours of the night.
“I don’t want a stop right in front of my house until 4 a.m. seven days a week,” she said.
Furey said the ordinance would make Strathmere like other beach towns in New Jersey, but other towns have police departments that can respond to nuisance complaints. Strathmere is patrolled by New Jersey State Police like the rest of Upper Township.
“Everyone else has a police department, they are right there,” she said. “We appreciate the state police but there might be bigger situations on the mainland and they can’t respond to a nuisance situation.”
“You’d be surprised how many patrols they have over there,” solicitor Dan Young said. “They can enforce it.”
Young said the township is working on a separate resolution that would establish approved jitney routes in Upper Township. He said there was a temporary resolution last year where jitneys only stopped at restaurants in Strathmere, which would serve as a model for the approved routes there.
“You’re probably not going to have a problem with the stops,” Young said to Furey.
Jitneys have been running through Strathmere the past few years, including a regular route between Strathmere and Sea Isle City with stops at three local restaurants – the Deauville Inn, La Fontana, and Mildred’s. The restaurants hired the jitney to serve customers, and it picked up and dropped people off in the restaurants' parking lots.
There were also jitneys chartered through rideshare apps or private companies, which seemed to provoke the most complaints. Those services sometimes ran through the early morning and dropped people off at their door.
Linda Bateman, president of the Strathmere Improvement Association, said the civic group wants to see jitney stops included in the Whale Beach section of Strathmere. Last year, there was no stop in Whale Beach, she said.
Township engineer Paul Dietrich said the plan is to have an approved jitney stop at either end of Whale Beach and one in the middle.
Bateman said the membership has not taken a position on the new ordinance overall as of yet.
“There are lots and lots of opinions,” Bateman said. “There is a big divide in terms of safety versus the incidents that were happening along the route.”
Mayor Richard Palombo said the township should reach out to the Strathmere Improvement Association and Furey for input on stops before finalizing the resolution setting approved routes. Young said the routes are being done by resolution instead of ordinance in case they need to be changed.
Palombo added that the jitney ordinance is not just for Strathmere.
“We would like to have jitneys run on the mainland as well,” he said.
The ordinance requires an applicant to pay a $50 annual licensing fee to operate a jitney in Upper Township. The applicant must also provide information on the motor vehicle to be used; a schedule indicating the dates and hours each day of operation; and proof that the seating capacity of the vehicle can accommodate 13 people.
The ordinance also requires proof of insurance and New Jersey registration; the applicant's name, age and address; and valid identification material. A jitney driver cannot operate in Upper Township without an identification card produced by the township clerk, according to the ordinance.
The ordinance also sets a maximum number of passengers of 13, and prohibits smoking on jitneys.