Edgewater Council Tackles Housing Issues: Curtails Short-term Rentals but Delays Affordable Housing

In a recent meeting of the Edgewater Borough Council, measures were taken to address significant housing concerns facing the community. The Council approved an ordinance aimed at reining in short-term rentals while also endorsing a delay in the implementation of Affordable Housing obligations, creating a juxtaposition of policy actions that have stirred ongoing debates on housing affordability and availability.

The meeting, led by Mayor McPartland and attended by all council members, prioritized discussions on housing policy changes. Central to these was the adoption of Ordinance 2023-003, a move aimed at limiting short-term rentals, a proliferating issue within the borough. The Council’s action comes in response to increasing resident complaints related to noise, traffic, and high occupant turnover associated with such rentals. The ordinance imposes a prohibition on short-term rentals, with violators subjected to substantial fines ranging from $1,250 for a first violation to $2,000 for third and subsequent violations. The new policy is expected to help stabilize the local rental market, potentially reducing rental costs and making long-term housing more accessible for residents.

Simultaneously, the Council endorsed Bill S3739/A5402, which proposed an additional three-year delay to the implementation of the 4th round of Affordable Housing obligations. This move appears to conflict with the goal of housing accessibility underscored by the short-term rental ordinance. Citing the COVID-19 pandemic’s ripple effects on their tax bases and land use plans, the Council argued that the delay would allow municipalities to meet their 3rd round commitments effectively before proceeding to the next round.

In supporting the delay, the Council voiced concerns over the high demand for more residential units to be built than communities could safely and responsibly absorb. However, this endorsement has been met with skepticism from advocates for affordable housing who argue that this delay could further exacerbate the housing accessibility and affordability issues facing the most vulnerable members of the community.

Apart from these housing issues, the Council addressed several financial and municipal matters. They unanimously adopted key financial ordinances including Resolution 2023-125 to adopt the 2023 Municipal Budget and 2023-002 to exceed Municipal Budget Appropriation Limits and establish a CAP Bank. There was also a unanimous decision to authorize the Borough Tax Collector to mail estimated tax bills, with the estimated tax levy for 2023 set at $66,837,538.00.

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