Short Term Rental Ordinance Talks Continue
Pike County Dispatch
By Wayne Witkowski
DINGMANS FERRY -- Delaware Township supervisors at their bi-monthly meeting last week discussed the township Planning Commission's recommendations regarding a Short-Term Rental Ordinance and the Dangerous or Dilapidated Structure Ordinance.
They agreed to schedule a public hearing at 7:15 p.m. during a bi-monthly meeting on the Dangerous or Dilapidated Structure Ordinance
Supervisor Jane Neufeld stressed during discussion at the workshop prior to the regular meeting that the ordinance does not address discarded debris but "damages from fire, wind or water" on structures or about generally decayed structures. All could pose safety hazards. "It all comes down to that the township has to receive a complaint," said Neufeld and the property owner has 30 days upon notification from the township to remedy the problem. If proper action is not taken in 30 days, the township will secure the property and charge the owner for that service and a 10 percent penalty.
As for the short-term rental ordinance, it has come under discussion at prior meetings and it was decided after lengthy discussion to return it to the planning commission for further examination regarding zoning and subsequent revisions.
The short-term rental ordinance establishes a maximum occupancy of two persons per bedroom plus four additional guests for overnight stays. Disorderly conduct that is loud or indecent is banned (The township Planning Commission is working on a Noise Ordinance). So is parking at the property of recreation vehicles, campers and trailers as well as setting up tents.
A contact phone number of the homeowner or a phone number of a contact person within 30 miles of the property must be filed with the township in case of emergency.The ordinance establishes placement of smoke detectors around the house and a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Trash must not be left or stored on the property unless it is for trash pickup.
The ordinance allows homeowner associations to enact additional requirements of short-term rental homeowners living in a private community.
Short-term rental permits are for one year and must be renewed annually. A homeowner loses his short-term rental permit for six months if there is a third violation of the ordinance within a year, pending inspection by the township zoning officer and/or building code official. Suspension of the permit can extend to a year for repeat violations. Fines range from $100 to $1,000, depending on the offense.
The ordinance explains an appeal process for the homeowner that would be heard by the board of supervisors.
Township Administrator Krista Predmore questioned what township zones prohibit short-term rentals. Township Solicitor Tom Farley said short-term rentals are permitted in all zones. Supervisors John Henderson and Rick Koehler expressed their objection to short-term rentals.
Predmore, who said she lives near a short-term rental home, said, "Negatives outweigh the positives. I have a lot of concern about them being in a residential zone."
She also raised the issue of short-term rentals in rural residential zones.
"Those properties are larger," Predmore said. "They have a lot more flexibility in a rural residential zone and I'm also concerned about them in residential zones."
That discussion led to the supervisors recommending that the township Planning Commission re-examine the ordinance.
Also during the meeting, supervisors decided to table the Delaware Township Volunteer Ambulance Corps funding pending a presentation given by DTVAC Board of Directors President Carl Will during the workshop.
Will pointed out to Neufeld's query during the workshop that the corps will have a 2022 budget "hopefully soon." Supervisors hope that can be ready in time for the next Board of Supervisors' budget workshop following the Oct. 13 meeting that will focus on emergency service figures and other township organization needs, such as DTVAC, the township's volunteer fire company, Emergency Management, the Recreation Committee and the Dingmans Ferry-Delaware Township Historical Society.
In Will's presentation, Henderson asked about the number of volunteers and Will said there are six EMTs and even more ambulance drivers, sometimes more than 10. "We're pretty well covered," Will said. But he later said there are "some vehicle issues" with the operation of ambulances.
When Koehler asked about staffing, Will said there is Advance Life Support (ALS) services two days a week, 12 hours per day. He said Basic Life Support services are 24/7, 365 days a year with two EMTs available at all times. He said BLS service costs $50,000 a year on the budget.
During the meeting, the board approved a motion to pay Wayco $298,405.02 for the three box culverts project at Long Meadow, Spencer and Log & Twig roads. It withdrew a lower price bid from Rutledge Excavating because of itemized errors on its bid.
Also during the meeting, the board accepted the resignations of Terasa Tarquini, Mandy Librizzi and Steve Wollman from the Delaware Township Recreation Committee. The trio had objected to the township delaying approval to release funding for pumpkins for the Harvest Festival held last Saturday until it received an updated financial report from the Rec Committee.Funding was approved at the last meeting after financials were submitted to the supervisors.
The board also approved $2,500 to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Food Pantry for its annual Day of Giving.
The board agreed to renew the township's annual $13,439.50 to Municipal Risk Management for the 2021-2022 Worker's Compensation policy.
The supervisors held their first budget workshop after last week's meeting to discuss General Fund, Recreation, Liquid Fuels and the fire company. It was pointed out that the American Recovery Plan for COVID-19 relief allocation of $371,314.03 will cover some expenses, including the cost for installing the new box culverts. Neufeld said the four parts of allowable expenditures covered under ARP that can be spent by the township includes replacing culverts, which falls under "high priority."
Neufeld pointed out that the township can not draft a resolution for the ARP funding until it specifies how the money is going to be spent.
Supervisors at the regular meeting had also approved the consultants Zelenkofske & Axelrod LLC for technical assistance and advice to the township regarding its spending of its ARP funding in the four-year time period. The company, an expert in that area of funding, will receive $18,500 for its services during that four-year period when ARP money is allowed to be spent.
In other budget meeting highlights after the regular meeting, the fire tax allocation to the volunteer department was listed at $145,000. Neufeld said the real estate transfer tax had a "very big year" in 2021 at $212,541 and will still be strong for 2022 at an estimated $175,000.
Roadmaster Vince Flatt said 350 tons of road treatment will be ordered next month for inclement winter weather.