BRIGANTINE — City Council announced Wednesday it has lifted the ban on short-term rentals, effective immediately.
The city issued the ban in early April for all short-term rentals, which include stays up to 180 days, to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Deputy Mayor Vince Sera said the city could not regulate a renter getting their deposit back if they lost their reservation during the ban.
Council discussed the ban two weeks ago at its regular meeting but wanted to make it more than just a council decision. Council members reached out to residents and asked for input on when they would feel safe enough for the city to lift the ban. More than 200 residents responded, Sera said.
“I can tell you that I, along with a number of people on council, have spoken to people who live here in the community who, two weeks ago, weren’t ready,” Sera said during the council’s video conference meeting. “I spent a good four hours on the phone talking to people in the community, to answer their questions, letting them know where we are, why we’re moving forward. It’s not just a decision that we as a council need to make, it’s a decision that the community itself needs to be comfortable (with), and people weren’t comfortable with that.”
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Councilman Dennis Haney said he had tried to push to lift the short-term rental ban last week, to no avail.
“I thought that, really, we were at a solid footing to have that done,” he said, adding many shore towns in the area permitted short-term rentals in late May.
“It was a beautiful weekend,” he said. “It would have been awesome to have (short-term rentals) last weekend.”
While many shore towns have been listening to the directives of the state on what to open and when, restrictions on short-term rentals were left to local government, according to executive and administrative orders issued by Gov. Phil Murphy.
While Haney pushed to lift the ban earlier, Sera said council didn’t hold a special meeting to discuss it, per the city clerk and legal counsel’s recommendation, because the ban wasn’t an emergent situation.
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“We didn’t really have grounds for an emergency council meeting,” Sera said. “And we wanted all aspects of the community to be represented.
“The only thing that we can do, and I think Dennis (Haney) touched on this really well, is give people the ability to make decisions in their own lives, and that’s what we’re trying to get to.”
The city also will open The Cove beach to drive-on vehicles Saturday as well as municipal tennis, pickleball and bocce ball courts. It is still in talks on when to open community pools and the farmers market.