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United Property Owners Association of Belmar v. Borough of Belmar

Decided: June 15, 1982.


On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Monmouth County.

Botter, Antell and Furman. The opinion of the court was delivered by Botter, P.J.A.D.


[185 NJSuper Page 165] The principal issue on this appeal is the constitutionality of an amendment to Belmar's zoning regulations prohibiting the temporary or seasonal rental of residential property in all parts of the borough except in the Resort-Residential (RR) and Resort-Business (RB) zones located in the easterly two blocks adjacent to the ocean. The purpose of the amendment, enacted on January 8, 1980 by Ordinance 1979-16, was to reverse the spread of seasonal rental practices into areas of the borough that were formerly stable, traditional family neighborhoods and to restrict the rental of homes to large groups of unrelated people. Belmar's

previous effort to combat summertime group rentals foundered in Kirsch Holding Co. v. Manasquan, 59 N.J. 241 (1971), in which Belmar's ordinance was considered on its companion appeal entitled State, Boro. of Belmar v. Schier.

Appellants*fn1 are three individual owners of property in Belmar. They brought this action to challenge certain provisions of borough ordinances affecting the rental of their residential properties. They appeal from that part of the final judgment which rejected their attack upon (a) the definition of "family" in Ordinance 1979-16 by which the rental restrictions were established; (b) Ordinance 1979-19 and 1979-20 for failing to provide a time limit for the issuance of a certificate of occupancy or license for rented dwelling units, and (c) Ordinance 1979-20, ยง 13-2.5, for establishing a license and reinspection fee structure which plaintiffs contend discriminates against renters of seasonal residential units.*fn2

The principal issue concerns the limitation on seasonal or temporary rentals. The borough presented evidence to show that summer rentals were once confined primarily to the hotel and boarding house zone located mainly within three blocks of the beachfront, but in recent years they progressively encroached into residential areas occupied by permanent residents. Seasonal use transformed traditional family neighborhoods into areas of transiency. Even the type of summer rentals changed. With increasing frequency houses were being rented to groups of young, unrelated adults. The phenomenon and its associated

problems were described in some detail in Kirsch Holding Co. v. Manasquan, supra, 59 N.J. at 243-245, and need not be repeated here.

Belmar has attempted to deal with the problem by restricting seasonal or temporary rentals to a narrow oceanfront zone and by prohibiting such rentals throughout the rest of the borough. It has done this by definitions which restrict residential occupancy except in the RR and RB zones as follows:

Family. A family shall consist of a group of persons, whether related or unrelated, not larger in number than any dwelling occupied or to be occupied by such group of persons, whether related or unrelated, may accommodate under the applicable housing code provisions, which constitutes a single bona fide housekeeping unit. This definition shall not include any society, club, fraternity, sorority, association, lodge, organization, or similar group. A single bona fide housekeeping unit for purposes of this ordinance is a relationship between persons for maintaining a common household or family relationship on a permanent basis or for indefinite period of time. It does not include any group of persons, whether related or unrelated, whose use or occupancy of any dwelling is or is intended to be temporary or seasonal in duration.

Temporary or Seasonal Residential Use. The use or occupancy of residential premises pursuant to an oral or written agreement for the letting, renting or leasing of any residential premises for a specific term of not more than one year, where said use and occupancy is not, or is not intended to be the permanent place of residence of the person or persons using or occupying the premises. Any agreement to let, rent or lease any premises which limits occupancy primarily between April First and October First of any year, or which requires the payment of all or substantially all of the rent for the entire term in advance, or for more than one month in advance, or the rent paid or to be paid is based upon fair market value for summer rentals, is deemed to be a Temporary or Seasonal Residential use.

In brief, except in the resort or seasonal rental zone, residential occupancies are limited to related or unrelated persons who constitute one bona fide housekeeping unit, maintaining a common household on a permanent basis or for an indefinite period. Any rental for one year or less is prohibited unless the occupants intend the dwelling unit to be their permanent place of residence. Seasonal, summertime rentals are prohibited. Thus, for example, as we ...

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