Residents share questions and concerns on CO ordinance with council

Mt. Laurel mayor also addresses environmental commission, and zero tax rate.

Hands were raised at a virtual council meeting on April 12 when Mt. Laurel Mayor Stephen Steglik asked if any member of the public wanted to speak about Ordinance 2021-8, a measure that concerns the continuation of certifications of occupancy (CO).

An amended version of Ordinance 2021-6 was passed earlier in the month and received its first read at the council’s virtual meeting on March 22. Ordinance 2021-8 has township council, employees, and residents divided over buyer safety, seller expenses, and establishment of practices to ensure residential properties on the market are up to code. 

At the March 22 council session, Township Solicitor George Morris itemized changes that the amended ordinance will include at its April 12 public hearing.

Certifications that involve heat, air conditioning, and a survey have been removed from the previous ordinance. Additionally, fees were reduced to assuage the concerns of residents, Township Clerk/Manager Meredith Tomczyk clarified.  

“We had a really great call, myself and Tomczyk, with Nexus Realtors Association; we met with our professionals to discuss this,” Steglik said. “This ordinance opened up a dialogue about just how we’re going to be able to work with Realtor associations in the future, with not just this, but any other matters as well.”

Despite changes made and suggestions from the public about reaching out to a Realtor association, the public still had its questions and concerns regarding the CO.

“Just to reassert my feelings of just wishing that this was not passed, I just think it’s such a hardship for so many people in this town right now,” said Mt. Laurel resident Dawn Hogan. “And I do appreciate the changes that you made. I just wish this could have waited until everything was over with COVID.”

Other residents of the community mentioned how it isn’t a comfortable time to take on such a change, and that the process of the ordinance felt rushed.  

A construction code official is working on a list and will share it with the Realtor association. Once it receives feedback on the list, the council will work with both parties on proper inspections and then publicize the information for the community, Tomczyk explained.  

Ordinance 2021-8 won’t be effective before July 31, meaning it will have no impact on home sales already in progress. 

In other news: 

  • 21- R- 83: In its first reading, the proposed item will mean a zero tax rate for township homeowners in the municipal budget. A public hearing for the budget will take place at the May 10 council meeting at 7 p.m.
  • 21-7: The ordinance amends the township code to delete in its entirety the Chapter 22 environmental commission and upgrade to a new one, in order to get up to speed on environmental factors in the community. Resident Gina Cole of Mt. Laurel explained the positives of the commission and how it will promote a  healthy lifestyle with clean water and air.
  • Ordinance 2021-9: For a second reading to provide stormwater management. Council motioned to approve the measure. 
  • A video of the April 12 meeting is available on the township website. Mt. Laurel Township Council will next convene on April 26. Visit mountlaurel.com/government/meetings for more information, including a meeting agenda.