ATLANTIC CITY — City Council has taken a small step that may have a big impact on dealing with rooming house violations.
An ordinance introduced Wednesday night allows for the city’s director of licensing and inspections, Dale Finch, to handle appeals of code violations, thereby expediting the process and allowing officials to move more quickly in addressing rooming houses that are not in compliance with requirements.
The ordinance also increases the maximum allowable fine for a violation from $2,000 to $5,000.
The proposed city regulation allows for rooming house licensees to appeal the director’s decision to the state Department of Community Affairs rather than municipal court.
“The hope is that it will streamline that process so that when people are in clear violation, like they are today when they have too many rooming houses in too small an area, that we’re going to be able to move quickly and thin out the presence of rooming houses in the city,” said Councilman Jesse Kurtz, the ordinance’s sponsor.
The city’s regulations on rooming houses mirror those found in a state law, which limits the number of rooming houses within 1,000 feet of each other as well as the number of people who can legally occupy them to 0.5 percent of the total population.
City records show there are 43 licensed rooming houses, while state records from the Bureau of Rooming and Boarding House Standards list 56 licensed operators.
The Atlantic City Police Department responded to more than 800 calls for service at rooming houses in 2018.
Council also took action on Gardner’s Basin, which the city recently assumed authority over. The governing body requested a grant and loans from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Blue Acres program for improvements. Council requested a grant in the amount of $1.83 million and a zero-interest loan for $610,200.
Additionally, the Department of Public Works will now have a Gardner’s Basin Division.
The Atlantic City Fire Department will receive a new ladder truck after council approved $976,000 to purchase the apparatus. Chief Scott Evans said the department expects to have the new truck, which is being built specifically for the city, by September.
“That firetruck is going to save lives, and it’s going to help give back to the city,” Evans said.
The Boardwalk between Grammercy and Oriental avenues will receive ramp and lighting improvements after council approved $1.679 million. According to the resolution, $1.249 million is already available, while the balance is contingent on the passage of the 2019 municipal budget.