Rejecting a suggestion by code enforcement officials, Belmar's mayor says residents there won't be prohibited from hanging wet clothing and towels on their front porches this summer.

I see Sponge Bob...and... (Craig Allen photo)

The wording of an ordinance introduced Tuesday night by the Belmar Borough Council was changed prior to the meeting. The revised measure excludes a section that would have made it "unlawful to place, hang or exhibit wet bathing suits, wet linens or washed articles in any street fronting yard, porch or roof of any premises or house in the borough."

According to Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, the original ordinance was altered because he was concerned about how residents would have reacted if the measure was approved.

"I believed it went too far and could have unintended consequences," Doherty told New Jersey 101.5 Wednesday afternoon.

Doherty said the section regarding hanging wet clothing and linens was included in the first draft of the ordinance at the request of the borough's Code Enforcement Department. The mayor didn't elaborate on why the language was added. He said he is unaware of any previous complaints or concerns being raised by residents about articles of clothing being draped over porches or in front of homes in the warmer months. Doherty also said the original draft never specifically mentioned the words "beach towels" as some believed.

The revised ordinance primarily focuses on "housing and property maintenance" in the borough. It makes it unlawful for anyone to abandon automobiles, unused machinery or building materials which are "not in contemplation of immediate use." The ordinance also makes it unlawful for residents to build or maintain fires that could "emit smoke causing or producing noxious or objectionable odors."

Concerns about the ordinance were first raised after a local online blog, "Belmar Days," posted about the measure. The blog was later updated to reflect the fact that the language was omitted from the draft that was introduced. Doherty said after the blog and some media outlets posted the story, the complaints started coming in.

"But the complaints were based on old information published on blogs and by certain media outlets," The mayor said.

Doherty said that while there will not be a ban on draping wet linens or clothing in front of homes, it's also not encouraged.

In order for the ordinance to be approved, a public hearing must be held and a final vote taken by the governing body. Doherty said the hearing is scheduled for Feb. 3 at borough hall.

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