Jackson council members move to prohibit short-term rentals

JACKSON – An ordinance that proposes prohibiting the rental of residential dwellings for under 30 days will have a public hearing and possible vote for adoption during the Aug. 11 meeting of the Jackson Township Council.

The ordinance was introduced during the council’s July 28 meeting following an event the previous weekend that saw more than 700 people dispersed from a house party on Mill Pond Road. The home had been rented out on a short-term basis.

The proposed ordinance states that “no dwelling, or segment thereof, may be rented or leased for a term of less than 30 days.” The ordinance goes on to state that “the lease or rental of multiple rooms within a dwelling to a single tenant or separate tenants is prohibited.”

“We had an unusual and unwelcome event in the township this past (weekend) with a 700-person party advertised at a rental home in the center of a quiet development,” council President Alexander Sauickie said.

He commended the response of Jackson police officers, saying, “In particular, the officer on the scene, when seeing the number of people approach 200, took immediate steps to call for backup from surrounding towns, the state police and the sheriff’s office.

“There is no doubt that by doing so and increasing the police presence, Jackson police avoided what could have been a lot worse. We should be proud of the fact they were able to disperse a crowd that grew to 700 people without incident,” Sauickie said.

Police said an investigation determined the home had been rented through a vacation rental online marketplace.

Charges were filed against the homeowner and the party organizers for violating Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order regarding the number of people who may gather at a location during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

Sauickie said the homeowner allowed outside entities to advertise a party that violated Murphy’s executive order and municipal ordinances related to causing a public nuisance.

“Once again, Jackson was painted in a negative spotlight by residents who don’t live in our town. They don’t live here, they don’t care about the town, and while all are welcome in Jackson, those who intend to wreak havoc and disturb the quality of life our residents expect and deserve will not be tolerated,” he said.

Sauickie said officials have spoken with representatives of Airbnb, the online service through which the property was rented. The listing has since been removed, he said.

Council members have asked the township attorney to take all necessary steps to hold the homeowner accountable for the cost of the services required to disperse the illegal party.

“To be clear, this (ordinance) is not a knee-jerk reaction, but more the final straw. This council has repeatedly said we will fight for our fellow residents’ quality of life and they can be sure this incident will not simply go away with a fine, but will be a catalyst to ensure it never happens again,” Sauickie said.