CAPE MAY — Contractors soon may be allowed to work on weekends for the first time since 2007, when noise issues in the city led to a ban.
City officials met with contractors last week to work out the details, knowing that damages from Hurricane Sandy, and new building and flood insurance changes that will come from that storm, will increase the demand for construction work.
Mayor Ed Mahaney said he expects the changes to be ironed out at a Feb. 5 City Council work session. The council would introduce the amendments by ordinance Feb. 19 and vote March 19.
“Everybody is working together. It was a very harmonious meeting. We believe it will meet the needs of everyone involved, including our residents,” Mahaney said.
The mayor was not releasing details, but Mike Sheehan, a Lower Township contractor who represented tradesmen at the meeting, said they discussed allowing an 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. workday on Saturdays between Labor Day and Memorial Day. The Saturday workday would be shortened to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the summer.
Sheehan said some Sunday work may be allowed.
“They won’t let us work Sundays unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as weather. We don’t like to work Sundays. We only do it when we have to,” Sheehan said.
The ban also was in place for holidays. Sheehan said exceptions on some of the Monday holidays, such as Veterans Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, were discussed.
“We may get a few Monday holidays,” Sheehan said.
Changes are just in the discussion stage and any actual changes would be subject to a council vote. Public input will be heard at the March 19 meeting.
Sheehan said contractors would be at that meeting and are prepared to argue it is discriminatory to allow homeowners to run power equipment on weekends while contractors cannot due to noise.
A slow economy and damages from Hurricane Sandy are factors. Changes in building requirements since the Oct. 29 storm may force some owners to elevate their homes to qualify for flood insurance. Sheehan represents about 25 contractors pushing for changes.
The 2007 ban also covers operation of power tools or equipment used in “construction, drilling, earthmoving, excavating or demolition work.” Such activity is banned from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. weekdays as well as all weekends and legal holidays. There is an exception for emergency work approved by the city’s construction official. The law also requires mufflers on motorized equipment.
When the ban was put in place, the city — like most shore towns — was going though a building boom, and there were complaints about the noise.
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