At its latest public session, Cherry Hill Township Council President David Fleisher provided an update on an issue which has been tabled since the end of former Mayor Chuck Cahn’s tenure — creation of an ordinance which deals with short-term rentals and the potential for negative impact on homeowners in neighborhoods where Airbnb and other room-shares have an imprint.
“We will not be taking any action any time soon on the short-term rental ordinance. While Airbnb and other … room-sharing companies are dealing with their own internal policies and issues as it relates to those, we have opted to wait and see how those companies resolve their own internal issues before and if (we decide on) taking any action,” he said.
“So, it’s something that we will not be acting on any time soon. We didn’t want anyone to think that we do not have that on our radar.”
Council originally passed an ordinance, upon first reading, in early September which limited short-term rentals to terms of 30 days or more. However, due to consistent community sentiment against the legislation — particularly from township homeowners who operated Airbnb properties themselves and depended on income from shorter-term deals — the ordinance was tabled before its second reading at a late-September public meeting.
The genesis of the ordinance had its roots in complaints to council by residents of the 1100 block of Winding Drive, in the township’s Springdale section, who were responding to the repeated noise and traffic issues stemming from a property once owned by Muhammad Ali.
At the time of the late September meeting, Fleisher and his colleagues said they were “collectively committed to passing legislation to protect the integrity of Cherry Hill’s neighborhoods,” but acknowledged that more discussion within council and from residents would be required before a better ordinance was presented.
The Cherry Hill Environmental Board’s trails program drew accolades at the meeting, including a proclamation for its success. Last fall, the township celebrated 10 years since the program’s inception, and plans for expansion were in the works.
Lew Gorman, chairman of the board, was on hand to accept the honor, as read by Fleisher, Mayor Susan Shin Angulo, as well as Councilwomen Jennifer Apell and Sangeeta Doshi.
Gorman said that one new trail is expected to be opening “shortly” behind Thomas Paine Elementary School, and the board “has its eye on” open space off the west side of Church Road as well as around Surrey Road near Carusi Middle School.
“Every neighborhood likes to have its own trail to walk to. I’m really encouraged by the use and the council’s support. The mayor’s office thought it was vital to have them on board, and through all the changes, I think Dave (Council President Fleisher) is the only one who’s here when it first passed the trails program. The support has only grown, and that’s what makes it viable. That, and our volunteers,” he said.
Additionally, in his comments which closed out the session, Fleisher updated the public on an environmental issue which has bubbled to the surface at times: a possible ban on plastic bags.
“The state is working on its own, state-wide policy related to the banning of plastic bags. And at this point, we think the most prudent course of action … is to wait a certain period of time to determine what actions the state will take, what state law will dictate first, so that the township can take necessary action,” he said.
“That remains a priority, but it’s got to be executed in a sound way for our residents and our businesses.”
In other news:
- Council additionally passed a pair of resolutions aimed at improving conditions on the Barclay Farmstead: one dealing with the contract to repair and/or replace doors, shutters and windows, as well as another which authorizes the township to accept and execute a grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust to preserve the area itself.
- Councilwoman Sangeeta Doshi was named to the New Jersey Transit Board, selected by State Senate President Steve Sweeney.