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Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Ocean City Condo Deemed Unsafe by State

The state Department of Community Affairs ordered the Ocean City code enforcement office to ‘red tag’ the Seaspray Condominiums
Courtesy Google Maps

The state Department of Community Affairs ordered the Ocean City code enforcement office to ‘red tag’ the Seaspray Condominiums, at 34th Street and Bay Avenue, as an unsafe structure and require all persons occupying the Seaspray to vacate the property.

By Shay Roddy

OCEAN CITY – A condo complex in Ocean City, which dates to the 1960s, has been “red-tagged” by the state, declaring it unsafe for occupancy.
Unit owners in the Seaspray Condominiums, at 34th Street and Bay Avenue, were ordered out of their properties by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), according to an email sent to unit owners by an attorney representing the condo board.
The email, which was obtained by the Herald, informs unit owners that the DCA “ordered the Ocean City code enforcement office to ‘red tag’ the Seaspray as an unsafe structure and require all persons occupying the Seaspray to vacate the property. No one will be permitted to occupy the premises until further notice.”
The lawyer who sent the notice, I. Dominic Simeone, who works for the condo board, said when reached by the Herald that he was surprised by the drastic measure taken by the state.
“This is a very significant, a very harsh remedy. And I’m unclear as to the sudden urgency of this order,” Simeone said.
In his letter, Simeone cast doubt on the DCA’s findings and said he would continue to address the agency and seek a retraction of the unsafe structure notice.
“This action is being taken despite our prior reports advising that the building is not in imminent danger of collapse. Nevertheless, we must advise you to obey the order of removal from the premises that has been issued,” he wrote to unit owners.
In the interview, Simeone said he wasn’t sure what could have changed since the DCA was last contacted about the property in the fall.
“I’m quite surprised by the sudden action taken by the DCA because the DCA has been contacted previously. They’ve been provided with engineering reports and elected not to take any action. The property was inspected late last year and there were some issues that needed to be repaired. Only one issue on that report was, in fact, structural, which has been repaired,” Simeone said.
One unit owner, Dennis Block, has been fighting the condo board in court and questioning the structural integrity of the building and accusing the board of failing to act in the past on essential repairs.
“Mr. Block has been trying to get the property shut down,” Simeone told the Herald.
Block, an attorney with offices in Cherry Hill, filed suit in Superior Court, seeking to take control out of the hands of the condo board. He agreed to an exclusive interview with the Herald, but it could not be arranged prior to publication.
At a recent Ocean City Council meeting, Ocean City officials said they would offer assistance to those displaced by the measure, which includes six or seven unit owners who reside there year-round, according to a report in The Press of Atlantic City.
Simeone said he was not aware of any unit owners who had commitments to rent their units out this coming season, but that this measure by the DCA could throw a wrench into those plans.
“I’m not aware of anybody who’s going to have those particular issues, with respect to rentals or anything like that. But theoretically, if you’ve been taking applications for rentals during the summer, that could impact people financially,” he said.
Simeone said he could not offer a timetable for when an appeal of the DCA’s decision might be heard or if there is any possibility unit owners could return prior to Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer season. 
To reach the reporter, Shay Roddy, email sroddy@cmcherald.com or call 609-886-8600, ext. 142. 

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