Bucks County Herald

Tinicum continues deliberation of transient rental ordinance

Anti-nuisance proposal also on supervisors’ table

CLIFF LEBOWITZ

While they continue working on a zoning ordinance change, designed to help their community cope with transient rental concerns, Tinicum Township officials have taken on a similar challenge in a move to update their anti-nuisance ordinance.

Opportunities for public input on both issues are still available.

At the Sept. 5 public board of supervisors meeting, officials conducted another in-depth discussion with residents of the township’s canal area, which is also much appreciated locally as a popular tourist destination.

The discussion began at the July 18 supervisors’ meeting, when permanent residents appeared to complain about apparent weekend-only use of a neighboring property, with the owner never there. The situation was not only an annoying disruption, but also had risen to the level of personal safety concern.

Recognizing the transient rental problem as a growing national phenomenon, particularly where property owners are rarely if ever on the premises, officials have been able to take advantage of other communities’ experience in coping with it, especially as related to having new laws be able to stand up to court challenges.

They have also noted they already have local bed and breakfast and hotel-motel business interests to honor, as well as the interest of some bonafide, permanent residents sometimes wish to rent out their homes.

The draft ordinance change prepared to date has been tabled for another month, for further discussion, before it is approved for sending to the township and county planning commissions for official and public review, and then coming back to the township, still as a draft.

Key features being considered so far include limiting any short-term rental, outside those already regulated within bed and breakfast and hotel-motel, to a minimum of 30 days, which is not considered as transient, and having only a period of 14-30 days as allowable, and only with a permit.

Also at the Sept. 5 meeting, officials conducted a separate discussion of a draft change to the township’s nuisance ordinance, which dated back to 1951, when it was related to feeding swill to swine. Nowadays, the concerns are about open storage of abandoned or junked vehicles and garbage or rubbish, and having racing tracks for go-carts. There are also concerns about broken windows and pushed-in doors, which may be more related to regulation as “blighted properties.”

In any event, nuisance offenses were changed 20 years ago from summary (criminal) to civil (fines), and supervisors and staff are now struggling with avoiding changes that might place highly undesirable new restrictions on enjoyment of properties, including by children.

Meanwhile, following a speed study by township police, supervisors agreed to advertise a new speed limit of 30 mph for Jugtown Hill Road, which is presently unposted as a default 55 mph.

They also approved 61 acres of the Schmidt property on Bedminster Road in Ottsville for inclusion in the township’s Agricultural Security Area District, after concluding that particular approval wouldn’t mandate undue difficulty for future planned industrial (PI) use in the township.

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