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Eviction Threat Leads to Occupancy Law Proposal

An ordinance change designed to give residents more recourse in housing disputes gets a public airing Aug. 21.

The case of a inspired a proposal to change the municipality's residential occupancy law that is now before the Town Council, according to Business Administrator Jasmine Lim. 

Last May, Ranya Tabik, a tenant of  on Baldwin Road, went before the Township Council and pleaded for help.

She told the body that the birth of her 4-year-old daughter, who is disabled, put her in violation of the current occupancy law. But though she and her husband turned their dining room into a separate bedroom for the child—and a 2010 inspection demonstrated that there was no overcrowding in the apartment—Tabik said Housing Coordinator Rena Plaxe told the family that the law deemed their bedroom approximately 25 square feet too small to permit a third resident in the space. 

After a talk with Mayor James Barberio, Tabik and her family were permitted to stay in the apartment. And the mayor said he would work to amend the law so that these situations do not occur again.

The promised ordinance change proposal had its introduction and first reading at the July 17 Town Council meeting.

Jasmine Lim said the amended law would have two separate, major changes.

"First, limitations of stay for guests are outlined," she said.

The details will be made public in time for the second reading, in which the entire proposal will be read into the public record.

"Second," Lim continued, "there is a waiver provision added for extenuating circumstances. The [zoning] director, Jennifer Collins, is responsible for reviewing and issuing waivers."

The proposed ordinance would offer another avenue of recourse for tenants like Tabik who are found to be in violation of the residency law, according to Lim.

"Any tenant who is issued a summons may appear in municipal court to defend themselves," she said.

The Township Council is expected to take up the matter during the proposal's second official at its next scheduled meeting, Aug. 21. Members of the public will have the opportunity to share their views for and against the measure before any vote takes place.

Robert Simpson July 26, 2012 at 03:13 PM
The residential occupancy law was established to protect the health and welfare of its occupents. Any deviation should be delt with with a variance.
Bill Holder July 26, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Mr. Simpson - Please read the article. The ordinance is not changing. Residents who are in violation may make an appeal to our municipal court system. Your use of "variance" is totally out of context.
Robert Simpson July 26, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Bill, I think I used the proper word. Dictionary:Variance "a license to do something contrary to the usual rule" If something can be done without the expense of making changes to an ordinance, shouldn't that be the path to be taken?

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