Proposed short-term rental ban tabled

SPARTA. The Township Council votes 4-1 to delay a decision on a proposed ordinance to prohibit the rental of residential property for less than 28 days.

Sparta /
| 22 Apr 2024 | 09:41

The Township Council voted 4-1 to table a proposed ban on short-term rentals at its meeting April 9.

Mayor Neill Clark voted no, saying officials already had considered whether the ban could be applied only to some zones rather than the entire township.

Councilwoman Christine Quinn proposed tabling the proposed ordinance to prohibit the rental of residential property for less than 28 days so the council could review the details and look at similar ordinances in other towns.

Before the vote to table, the proposed ordinance was amended to substitute enforcement of its provisions by the code enforcement officer rather than the Police Department.

Clark said he personally favors short-term rentals because “I think it benefits the town, I think it benefits tourism, I think we have a lodging problem.”

However, he acknowledged that many residents feel differently.

Quinn said she supports a short-term rental ban in residential zones only and would permit them in “zones where it makes sense.”

Councilman Josh Hertzberg, who said he often stays in Airbnb properties when he travels, said banning short-term rentals throughout the township is not the answer.

”I do think there’s ways we can allow it and still protect the residents, and that’s what we should do.”

Councilman Daniel Chiariello, who said he never has stayed in an Airbnb property, acknowledged the need for short-term housing in Sparta for people attending a wedding or visiting family or friends.

Permitting short-term rentals could make it more difficult to attract a small hotel or bed-and-breakfasts, which may be preferrable, he noted.

He urged the council to start a short-term rental ban in the next calendar year so people who rent out their homes are not forced to turn away customers who booked before the ban was proposed.

Quinn urged the township to set up a system to identify rental properties.

Budget introduced

During the meeting, the council introduced the proposed 2024 municipal budget of about $30.6 million. About $18.4 million would be raised by taxes.

The 2023 budget was about $29.6 million, with about $19 million raised by taxes.

The proposed 2024 tax rate would be 0.552 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation, down 0.022 cents per $100 of assessed valuation from a year earlier. That is a decrease of 3.82 percent.

About half of the 2024 budget would cover employee costs, such as salaries, benefits and insurance.

A public hearing and final vote on the budget is scheduled May 14.

Clark appointed Joan Furman as the mayor’s designee to the Planning Board. She replaces Nick Pompelio, who resigned after a recent court ruling.

Furman has worked for several health-care plans and has served on state boards regulating outpatient facilities, the mayor said. “Joan comes with a lot of professional experience. I think she will make a valuable addition to the Planning Board.”

An alternate position on the Planning Board remains open, he noted.

Resolutions approved include:

• A contract for the sale of a small property from the township to Perona Realty Corp.

• Authorization for the police chief to execute a memorandum of understanding to establish joint participation in the Arrive Together program to enhance and support response to certain behavioral health crisis calls.

• Termination of the township’s easement and covenant not to sue agreement with the Glen Knolls Property Owner’s Association because the township no longer maintains underground water tanks for fire protection in the Glen Knolls development.

Quinn reported that 25 new Hometown Hero banners will be hung this year.

The Municipal Alliance will sponsor a Trout Fishing Derby on May 18, she said.