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Cape May Introduces Ordinance on Lead Paint Inspections

Cape May Introduces Ordinance on Lead Paint Inspections

By Vince Conti

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CAPE MAY – The City Council has introduced an ordinance outlining the process for lead paint inspections in long-term rental properties built before 1978.

The ordinance is the city’s attempt to establish a process that is “affordable, streamlined and compliant,” Councilman Shane Meier said upon its introduction at the council’s May 21 meeting.

The inspection requirement is mandated by state statute. The council, seeking to streamline the new requirement, has linked visual inspections for chips or peeling paint to its already existing Fire Bureau inspection for rental properties.

The ordinance establishes a $20 surcharge for the inspection, which covers the amount that the city remits to the state for deposit in the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund. Mayor Zack Mullock has said repeatedly at council meetings that the city is not looking at these inspections as a revenue source.

The properties open to inspection are long-term rental dwellings leased for a minimum of six months and built before 1978. The 1978 cutoff date is part of the state regulation and assumes that lead paint was largely off the market by that time.

What makes the state requirement potentially a greater issue for Cape May City is the town’s large stock of older buildings. The current city estimate is that there are 465 pre-1978 structures that are also rental properties. The number of those rentals that meet the state definition of long-term has not yet been determined.

The council also voted to establish a task force to evaluate whether the inspections for lead paint should be extended to short-term rental properties as well.

The possible extension of the inspection requirement to short-term rentals is “a health and safety” issue, according to City Manager Paul Dietrich. At the May 21 meeting, real estate agent and former Councilman Chris Bezaire challenged an extension to short-term rental properties as possibly forbidden by the nature of the state statute’s exemption for such properties. The ability to extend the inspections will be an issue for the task force.

Mullock said the task force would meet soon. Two members of that task force will be former Mayor Edward Mahaney and current Planning and Zoning Board Chair William Bezaire.

Contact the reporter, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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