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Ocean Residents Angry Over Ordinance Change
By GARRETT STASSE
 As expected, the Ocean Township Council rescinded an ordinance limiting residential rentals to one per year.
 As also expected, residents who say their quality of life has been disrupted by tenants lambasted the council for allegedly caving in to the landlords.
 Township Attorney Martin Arbus said a federal court judge gave council no choice: keeping the ordinance would have opened the township to a lawsuit it likely would have lost, making it liable for monetary damages and legal fees.
 A group of landlords whose houses in single-family residential neighborhoods have been the focus of much controversy and outcry over the years sued under the federal Fair Housing Act, saying the township illegally limited rentals and discriminated against tenants. The ordinance would have forced landlords to choose between summer and winter rentals.
 Homeowners, living in neighborhoods where Monmouth University students have damaged property, throwing loud parties at all hours, racing down streets, trespassing and in some cases, threatening people, are upset.
  Police patrols and rigid code enforcement quelled much of the disruption, but not enough, residents said.
 Myron Samuel of Larchwood Avenue said
Long Branch has the same ordinance and is fighting in court to keep it.
 “We spent a lot of time and money vetting (the ordinance) to make sure it was solid,” he said. “Why is Long Branch continuing and we are not?”
 Arbus said the judge recommended that both municipalities drop the laws or face punishment. As it was, the township’s insurance company, which paid to defend the township, was forced to pay $30,000 of the plaintiff’s legal fees.
 Arbus could not say why Long Branch stayed in, but Ocean would adopt the ordinance again should the city win. He also rejected the contention of some that landlords were running businesses in residential zones.
 “The court likes to see if a property is being used for residential purposes. That’s not necessarily commercial,” he said.
Mayor William Larkin said the township would continue strict law enforcement, which is about all it can do under the circumstances. He said residents should lobby the state Legislature for help. State Assemblyman Sean Kean, R-11th, will hold a town meeting in Town Hall at 8 p.m. July 28.
 “We as a town have gone as far as we can,” Larkin said. “Everywhere we turned we were shut off by state regulations.”
 Brian Rasp, Oakwood Avenue, said, “You
caved. You guys are cowards running scared of Mr. Fox (Gary Fox, the landlords’ lawyer). You guys are selling us out here and it stinks. If you lived in our neighborhoods you’d understand what we’re going through.”
 Sydney Lekash, Larchwood Avenue, said the rental situation in his area is so acute there are almost no owner-occupied houses left. And that damages their property values because landlords take poor care of their properties.
 “If you wanted to sell you’d have to sell to a landlord,” he said. “No family would come here.”
 He praised police efforts, saying officers “have done a wonderful job.
 “But that’s not the only thing we need. We need our day in court.”
Don’t Feed Geese
 Council adopted an ordinance banning feeding waterfowl on public properties, and another banning the connection of sump pumps to the drainage system. The latter was to conform to the federal Clean Water Act.
 Come fall, homeowners will have to put leaves in the street once a week, just before township crews pick them up. No more leaving them there for days because the state says leaves pollute lakes and streams. The township newsletter will explain all.
7/21/05