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Cherry Hill township officials are trying to adopt an ordinance which would prohibit short-term rentals of less than 30 consecutive days.
Those in violation of the ordinance would face a fine of up to $2000 per day and up to 90 days in jail.
The proposed ruling comes after several complaints about loud parties at the former Cherry Hill home of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
After numerous complaints over loud parties at the former New Jersey home of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, Cherry Hill wants to place restrictions on short-term rentals.
An ordinance that would prohibit short-term rentals of less than 30 consecutive days in Cherry Hill passed its first reading during a council meeting Monday night. If approved, those in violation would face a fine of up to $2000 per day and up to 90 days in jail.
“We are at a point where we have an obligation to manage the impact that these short-term rentals are having on our neighborhoods, while balancing and respecting the property rights of our residents to rent out their homes,” Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn said. “This ordinance is designed to safeguard the peace, safety, and general welfare of our residents and neighborhoods.”
The proposed ruling comes amid numerous complaints from Cherry Hill residents regarding issues sparked by short-term rentals in their neighborhoods, including excessive noise, traffic and parking congestion, vandalism and overcrowding.
“We have crafted this ordinance in an effort to protect the character, charm, and quality of life for our residents,” Cherry Hill Council President David Fleisher said. “On balance, we have found that concerns regarding loud music, traffic and congestion, and excessive trash, as well as public safety concerns, require us to take this action.”
Among the most popular rentals in the town is the former home of Muhammad Ali which was named a “top Airbnb rental” in the Philadelphia region. Township officials said the home had been rented out for commercial use, such as parties, fundraisers, weddings and other big events, which violates the town’s zoning laws.
NBC10 obtained police dash cam video of officers responding to the mansion the night of Aug. 11. It shows numerous cars parked outside, people dressed in bathing suits inside and a man lying on the floor unconscious.
Burnell Brown, the property manager of the home, told NBC10 she had called 911 during the party, had the cars towed and guided officers to the injured man, who was later taken to the hospital.
“That is the only incident where anyone has gotten hurt here,” Brown said.
Brown told NBC10 the owners of Ali’s former home are extremely strict about the house rules, including prohibiting any parties for profit.
“People tried to turn it into a party house but it should not be labeled a party house,” Brown said.
Cherry Hill Police Chief Bud Monaghan told NBC10 his officers have been to the property 100 times. Brown denied this however, claiming the house has only had 27 bookings in the last eight months and that the situation only got out of hand during a handful of those bookings.
Brown also told NBC10 she feels that the home has been unfairly singled out by the township.
“They call it a nuisance house,” she said. “We have a nuisance neighbor. You don’t hear New Jersey Airbnb, you hear ‘Ali house.’”
Mayor Cahn said however that it wasn’t only the parties at Ali’s former home that led to the proposal.
“The consistent parties and noise complaints occurring at that home are just highlighting, on a grand scale, the issues that these short-term rentals can bring to a community,” Cahn said. “Guests staying in short-term rentals are using the properties as hotels and have no stake in the neighborhood. The residential zone is designed for people to ‘reside’ in. The simple fact remains that short-term rentals compromise the integrity of that purpose.”
Brown said the owners of Ali’s former home don’t plan on fighting the ordinance if it passes and have removed the listing from Airbnb. Instead, they’ll consider booking longer term rentals.
“We have not tried to do anything to change this neighborhood,” Brown said. “Muhammad Ali has left us but his spirit still lives in this property.”
The ordinance will be considered for adoption on its second reading during the regularly scheduled Cherry Hill Township Council meeting on Sept. 23. If adopted, the ordinance will go into effect on Nov. 1.