The state of New Jersey has reportedly agreed to back off residency rules that threatened to evict residents this fall at a Cape May County campground, according to The Press of Atlantic City

About 60 residents of Carol Lynn Resorts in Woodbine met with state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, about the state’s decision last year to impose a six-month residency limit on seasonal campgrounds. 

Van Drew announced that the state Department of Community Affairs will grandfather existing park model trailers at the state’s campgrounds. These are trailers of 400 square feet or less that, according to the state, have electrical systems that might be substandard. 

Residents still must comply with local ordinances over residency, Van Drew said. In Woodbine, that means residents at campgrounds such as Carol Lynn Resorts can live there daily from April to November and remain 21 days per month the remainder of the year. 

Carol Lynn Resorts is considered a campground, but residents here hardly camp. They live in their park models year-round. 

“Technically, a campground is not and never has been a year-round residence – technically,” Van Drew said. “The DCA has now agreed this requirement will only apply to new trailers coming into the park.” 

Woodbine has never enforced its own rules governing campground residency. But when the state imposed the new six-month rules, campground owners Anthony and Carol Saduk gave residents a Nov. 1 deadline to leave. 

The residency rules stirred tempers and raised consternation among campground residents. Van Drew began his comments by imploring the residents to “be nice.” 

But the sudden eviction notices caught many people by surprise, and for-sale signs began popping up in the windows of many of the trailers. 

DCA spokesman Chris Donnelly could not be reached for comment late Thursday. Van Drew said he was negotiating a deal with former DCA Commissioner Joseph Doria, before he resigned last week amid a corruption scandal. 

Van Drew said he reached a similar understanding with the agency’s new acting commissioner. 

Campground owners may impose their own rules that may be more restrictive than the state’s, Van Drew said. But Carol Saduk on Thursday said if Van Drew is correct, the state’s response satisfies her concerns about complying with the law and her tenants may stay through the winter. 

“The regulation is on the books. You can’t ignore it because so-and-so said you can. 

We wanted it in writing,” she said. “We were just doing what the state told us to do. The shame of this is it put us in the position of being the big bad guys throwing the senior citizens out. 

“All’s well that ends well. We’ll move on from here,” she said. 

Residents applauded Van Drew’s announcement and said the state’s decision satisfies them. 

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Campground Owners Association has proposed a compromise to establish a 270-day or nine-month season. The trade group represents 105 campgrounds and resorts in 13 counties. 

“If there are any situations where people are there longer, we’re proposing they get an electrical inspection by an electrician to certify it’s safe for use and meets the residential code,” trade group President Jay Otto said. “This should satisfy the DCA’s concerns about the electric systems in the units.”