EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Using township streets as a cheap alternative to offseason marina storage may end soon.
Township Administrator Peter Miller said the Township Committee will introduce an ordinance Wednesday that would sharply limit how long a person can leave a trailer on the street. Officials are working out the details, but it is expected to curb the current open-ended privilege.
And for some people in the township’s Bargaintown section, those limits can’t come soon enough.
Along Tyler Drive, for example, residents say a parked boat on the relatively narrow street makes the road difficult to plow and limits truck access. They are afraid it could hamper emergency responders. The street is narrow enough that on-street parking is permitted on only one side of the street.
Tyler Drive neighbor Jason Bishop said people have hit the boat, and in recent weeks it has blocked a moving truck. Another neighbor, Eric Grimley, said the boat next to his property should be on the owner’s property.
A third neighbor, Anthony DiDonato, said the boat makes the road difficult for garbage trucks and snowplows. The issue has existed for several years, and DiDonato, a township Zoning Board alternate since 2011, acknowledged prodding officials. After perceived delays, “I called, screaming, ‘so let’s get it done,’” he said.
Mark Burns, owner of the 22-foot boat “Head Case,” said he didn’t know the boat was an issue. It is violating no current ordinance, and if it is a hazard, the retired police officer said, township police could order it towed and impounded.
The boat has been there on and off for about a decade, Burns said. He has taken steps to make it safer, including parking it underneath a street light and surrounding it with orange cones. He said neighbors have not complained to him, adding, if it was a problem, “Someone should call me and say, ‘Dude, get your boat off the street!’”
The problem is more than one boat, however. The township plans to address broader on-street concerns with the ordinance, Miller said. Those issues include how long campers, roll-off trash containers and portable moving containers can stay on township streets. One complaint, Miller said, is that such objects do not have reflectors, making them less visible to drivers after dark.
Complaints about these and other on-street obstacles began five or six years ago, Miller said, as the one-time rural township grew increasingly suburban. Police and fire officials, as well as residents, have complained about the objects being left on the streets.
There is currently no limit to how long properly state-registered boat trailers can sit on township streets. Municipal code is all but silent about boats, banning only automotive repair or service shops from storing wrecked boats on premises.
Township Fire Chief William Danz Jr. did not return a call seeking comment. During the March 12 township meeting, however, Danz complained that school buses, parked on-street, effectively create a yellow wall that limits visibility.
Last year, Miller said, fire crews were delayed getting to a fire because a boat on a trailer blocked access to the street. Crews had to wait for the owner to come and move the boat before they could fight the fire.
Sgt. Albert Maiorano, of the Police Department’s traffic safety unit, said the concern was aggravated by the narrowness of some newer township roads. These make it difficult to get a firetruck, ambulance or trash truck past roadside obstacles.
Ultimately, he said, police would like the ordinance to cover boats, trailers and storage containers — anything placed on the street that would need another vehicle to move it in an emergency.
“I don’t think we want them on the road at all,” Maiorano said.
Other towns have considered similar bans over the years, and Miller said the township’s ordinance is based on regulations in Brick Township, Ocean County.
Parked boat trailers are generally banned on the region’s barrier islands. In Northfield, boats cannot be left on city streets between Oct. 1 and May 1. In Cape May Point, long-term storage is limited to properly screened side- and back-yards. Lower Township similarly bans on-street storage longer than 48 hours.
Atlantic County’s other growth townships deal with boats in different ways. On-street boat parking is legal in Galloway Township, which does not address the issue in its laws, according to an online version of township code.
On the other hand, Hamilton Township’s code bans on-street boat parking. Boats at private residences must be kept in rear or side yards, and not on the road or in shared parking lots.
Burns and other residents said they would move their boats and trailers if the township passes the ordinance. Melissa Mathis, who keeps a pop-up camper in front of her house near Vermont and Dorset avenues, said she had no problem moving it if required. George Whitley parks a car trailer near his home at Drexel and Willow avenues in the township’s Zion Park section. He also agreed to move, adding, “I’m sure I wouldn’t be getting away with this if I lived in the Shires” neighborhood.
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