The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this division, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
Abandoned vehicle, as authorized and defined in G.S. 160A-303, means one that:
Is left upon a public street or highway in violation of a law or ordinance prohibiting parking;
Is left on a public street or highway for longer than seven days;
Is left on property owned or operated by the town for longer than 24 hours; or
Is left on private property without the consent of the owner, occupant or lessee thereof, for longer than two hours.
Authorizing official means the supervisory employee of the police department or the town administrator, respectively, designated to authorize the removal of vehicles under the provisions of this division.
Junked motor vehicle, as authorized and defined in G.S. 160A-303.2, means a vehicle that does not display a current license plate lawfully upon that vehicle or:
Is partially dismantled or wrecked; or
Cannot be self-propelled or moved in the manner in which it originally was intended to move; or
Is more than five years old and appears to be worth less than $100.00.
Motor vehicle or vehicle means all machines designed or intended to travel over land by self-propulsion or while attached to any self-propelled vehicle.
Nuisance vehicle means a vehicle on public or private property that is determined and declared to be a health or safety hazard, a public nuisance, and unlawful, including a vehicle found to be:
A breeding ground or harbor for mosquitoes, other insects, rats or other pests;
A point of heavy growth of weeds or other noxious vegetation over eight inches in height;
A point of collection of pools or ponds of water;
A point of concentration of quantities of gasoline, oil or other flammable or explosive materials as evidenced by odor;
One which has areas of confinement which cannot be operated from the inside, such as trunks, hoods, etc.;
So situated or located that there is a danger of it falling or turning over;
One which is a point of collection of garbage, food waste, animal waste, or any other rotten or putrescible matter of any kind;
One which has sharp parts thereof which are jagged or contain sharp edges of metal or glass; or
Any other vehicle specifically declared a health and safety hazard and a public nuisance by the board of commissioners.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 2; Ord. of 5-12-2011)
Cross reference— Definitions and rules of construction generally, § 1-2.
The police department and town administrator shall be responsible for the administration and enforcement of this article. The police department shall be responsible for administering the removal and disposition of vehicles determined to be abandoned on the public streets and highways within the town, and on property owned by the town. The town administrator shall be responsible for administering the removal and disposition of abandoned, nuisance or junked motor vehicles located on private property.
The town may, on an annual basis, contract with private tow truck operators or towing businesses to remove, store, and dispose of abandoned vehicles, nuisance vehicles and junked motor vehicles in compliance with this article and applicable state laws.
Nothing in this article shall be construed to limit the legal authority or powers of officers of the town police department and fire department in enforcing other laws or in otherwise carrying out their duties.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 1)
Nothing in this division shall apply to any vehicle which is:
Located in a bona fide automobile graveyard or junkyard as defined in G.S. 136-143, in accordance with the Junkyard Control Act, G.S. 136-141 et seq.;
In an enclosed building;
On the premises of a business enterprise being operated in a lawful place and manner if the vehicle is necessary to the operation of the enterprise; or
In an appropriate storage place or depository maintained in a lawful place and manner by the town.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 14)
It shall be unlawful for the registered owner or person entitled to possession of a vehicle to cause or allow such vehicle to be abandoned, as such term is defined in this division.
Upon investigation, proper authorizing officials of the town may determine that a vehicle is an abandoned vehicle and order the vehicle removed.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 3)
It shall be unlawful for the registered owner or person entitled to possession of a motor vehicle, or for the owner, lessee, or occupant of the real property upon which the vehicle is located, to leave or allow the vehicle to remain on the property after it has been declared a nuisance vehicle.
Upon investigation, the town administrator may determine and declare that a vehicle is a health or safety hazard and a nuisance vehicle as defined in this division, and order the vehicle removed.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 4)
It shall be unlawful for the registered owner or person entitled to the possession of a junked motor vehicle, or for the owner, lessee, or occupant of the real property upon which a junked motor vehicle is located, to leave or allow the vehicle to remain on the property after the vehicle has been ordered removed.
It shall be unlawful to have more than one junked motor vehicle, as defined in this division, on the premises of public or private property. A single, permitted junked motor vehicle must strictly comply with the location and concealment requirements of this section.
It shall be unlawful for any owner, person entitled to the possession of a junked motor vehicle, or for the owner, lessee, or occupant of the real property upon which a junked motor vehicle is located to fail to comply with the locational requirements or the concealment requirements of this section.
Subject to the provisions of subsection (e), upon investigation, the town administrator may order the removal of a junked motor vehicle after finding, in writing, that the aesthetic benefits of removing the vehicle outweigh the burdens imposed on the private property owner. Such finding shall be based on a balancing of the monetary loss of the apparent owner against the corresponding gain to the public by promoting or enhancing community, neighborhood or area appearance. The following among other relevant factors may be considered:
Protection of property values;
Promotion of economic development opportunities;
Indirect protection of public health and safety;
Preservation of the character and integrity of the community; and
Promotion of the comfort, happiness and emotional stability of area residents.
Permitted concealment or enclosure of a junked motor vehicle shall be as follows:
One junked motor vehicle. One junked motor vehicle, in its entirety, can be located in the rear yard as defined by the town's zoning ordinance if the junked motor vehicle is entirely concealed from public view from a public street and from abutting premises by an acceptable covering. The town administrator has the authority to determine whether any junked motor vehicle is adequately concealed as required by this subsection. The covering must remain in good repair and must not be allowed to deteriorate. The covering or enclosure must be compatible with the objectives stated in this division.
More than one junked motor vehicle. Any other junked motor vehicles must be kept in a garage or building structure that provides a complete enclosure so that the junked motor vehicles cannot be seen from a public street or abutting property. A garage or building structure means either a lawful, nonconforming use or a garage or building structure erected pursuant to the lawful issuance of a building permit and which has been constructed in accordance with all zoning and building code regulations.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 5)
Except as set forth in section 12-83, an abandoned, nuisance or junked vehicle which is to be removed shall be towed only after notice to the registered owner or person entitled to possession of the vehicle. In the case of a nuisance vehicle or a junked motor vehicle, if the names and mailing addresses of the registered owner or person entitled to the possession of the vehicle, or the owner, lessee, or occupant of the real property upon which the vehicle is located, can be ascertained in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the notice shall be given by first class mail. The person who mails the notices shall retain a written record to show the names and addresses to which mailed, and the date mailed. If such names and addresses cannot be ascertained or if the vehicle to be removed is an abandoned motor vehicle, notice shall be given by affixing on the windshield or some other conspicuous place on the vehicle a notice indicating that the vehicle will be removed by the town on a specified date, no sooner than seven days after the notice is affixed. The notice shall state that the vehicle will be removed by the town on a specified date, no sooner than seven days after the notice is affixed or mailed, unless the vehicle is moved by the owner or legal possessor prior to that time.
With respect to abandoned vehicles on private property, nuisance vehicles, and junked motor vehicles to which notice is required to be given, if the registered owner or person entitled to possession does not remove the vehicle but chooses to appeal the determination that the vehicle is abandoned, a nuisance vehicle, or, in the case of a junked motor vehicle that the aesthetic benefits of removing the vehicle outweigh the burdens, such appeal shall be made to the board of commissioners in writing, heard at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the board of commissioners, and further proceedings to remove the vehicle shall be stayed until the appeal is heard and decided.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 6)
The requirement that notice be given prior to the removal of an abandoned, nuisance or junked motor vehicle may, as determined by the authorizing official, be omitted in those circumstances where there is a special need for prompt action to eliminate traffic obstructions or to otherwise maintain and protect the public safety and welfare. Such findings shall, in all cases, be entered by the authorizing official in the appropriate daily records. Circumstances justifying the removal of vehicles without prior notice include:
Vehicles abandoned on the streets. For vehicles left on the public streets and highways, the board of commissioners hereby determines that immediate removal of such vehicles may be warranted when they are:
Parked in violation of an ordinance prohibiting or restricting parking;
Parked in a no stopping or standing zone;
Parked in a loading zone;
Parked in a bus zone; or
Parked in violation of temporary parking restrictions imposed under code sections.
Other abandoned or nuisance vehicles. With respect to abandoned or nuisance vehicles left on city-owned property other than the streets and highways, and on private property, such vehicles may be removed without giving prior notice only in those circumstances where the authorizing official finds a special need for prompt action to protect and maintain the public health, safety and welfare. By way of illustration and not of limitation, such circumstances include:
Vehicles blocking or obstructing ingress or egress to businesses and residences;
Vehicles parked in such a location or manner as to pose a traffic hazard; and
Vehicles causing damage to public or private property.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 7)
Any abandoned, nuisance or junked motor vehicle which has been ordered removed may, as directed by the town, be removed to a storage garage or area by the tow truck operator or towing business contracting to perform such services for the town. Whenever such a vehicle is removed, the authorizing town official shall immediately notify the last known registered owner of the vehicle, such notice to include the following:
The description of the removed vehicle;
The location where the vehicle is stored;
The violation with which the owner is charged, if any;
The procedure the owner must follow to redeem the vehicle; and
The procedure the owner must follow to request a probable cause hearing on the removal.
The town shall attempt to give notice to the vehicle owner by telephone; however, whether or not the owner is reached by telephone, written notice, including the information set forth in subsections (a)(1) through (5), shall also be mailed to the registered owner's last known address, unless this notice is waived in writing by the vehicle owner or his agent.
If the vehicle is registered in the state, notice shall be given within 24 hours. If the vehicle is not registered in the state, notice shall be given to the registered owner within 72 hours from the removal of the vehicle.
Whenever an abandoned, nuisance or junked motor vehicle is removed, and such vehicle has no valid registration or registration plates, the authorizing town official shall make reasonable efforts, including checking the vehicle identification number, to determine the last known registered owner of the vehicle and to notify him of the information set forth in subsections (a)(1) through (5).
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 8)
As a general policy, the town will not remove a vehicle from private property if the owner, occupant or lessee of such property could have the vehicle removed under applicable state law procedures. In no case will a vehicle be removed by the town from private property without a written request of the owner, occupant or lessee, except in those cases where a vehicle is a nuisance vehicle or is a junked motor vehicle which has been ordered removed by the town administrator. The town may require any person requesting the removal of an abandoned, nuisance or junked motor vehicle from private property to indemnify the town against any loss, expense or liability incurred because of the removal, storage, or sale thereof.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 12)
After the removal of an abandoned vehicle, nuisance vehicle or junked motor vehicle, the owner or any other person entitled to possession is entitled to a hearing for the purpose of determining if probable cause existed for removing the vehicle. A request for hearing must be filed in writing with the county magistrate designated by the chief district court judge to receive such hearing request. The magistrate will set the hearing within 72 hours of receipt of the request, and the hearing will be conducted in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 20-222, as amended.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 9)
At any stage in the proceedings, including before the probable cause hearing, the owner may obtain possession of the removed vehicle by paying the towing fee, including any storage charges, or by posting a bond for double the amount of such fees and charges to the tow truck operator or towing business having custody of the removed vehicle. Upon regaining possession of a vehicle, the owner or person entitled to the possession of the vehicle shall not allow, or engage in, further violations of this division.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 10)
Any abandoned, nuisance or junked motor vehicle which is not claimed by the owner or other party entitled to possession will be disposed of by the tow truck operator or towing business having custody of the vehicle. Disposition of such a vehicle shall be carried out in accordance with G.S. 44A-1 et seq.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 11)
No person shall be held to answer in any civil or criminal action to any owner or other person legally entitled to the possession of an abandoned, nuisance or junked motor vehicle, for disposing of such vehicle as provided in this division.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 13)
It shall be unlawful for any person to remove or attempt to remove from any storage facility designated by the city any vehicle which has been impounded pursuant to the provisions of this division unless and until all towing and impoundment fees which are due, or bond in lieu of such fees, have been paid.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 15)
The police department shall prepare and maintain an eligible list of those persons having businesses in the town or within the extraterritorial jurisdictional limit, who apply and qualify to tow and store vehicles at the request of the authorizing official pursuant to this division. The chief of police shall prepare rules in accordance with the provisions of this division for the qualification of private tow truck operators or businesses for the eligible list.
Any private tow truck operator or business on the eligible list that violates any provision of this division or the rules established in accordance with this division shall be subject to removal from the eligible list after written notice. Any private tow truck operator or business removed from the eligible list may, within five working days of the date of the notice of removal, request a hearing before the chief of police to show cause why he should not be removed from the list.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 16)
To qualify for the eligible list a private tow truck operator or business must:
Keep his towing operation either open or available, by a telephone number, 24 hours per day seven days a week.
Have available at all times a wrecker of at least 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight and having the necessary equipment to tow vehicles from the streets and other public or private places in the town when called upon to do so.
Have at, or in the immediate vicinity of, the location of his towing operation, sufficient fenced storage space and facilities to protect both damaged and undamaged vehicles, and have a facility to store a vehicle out of exposure to the elements overnight.
The private tow truck operator or business must also agree to assume the obligation to:
Promptly tow and store all vehicles to be removed from the public streets or other public places or private property upon the request of the authorizing official.
Issue a receipt to the authorizing official for each vehicle towed and stored, and keep the vehicle until its release is authorized by the authorizing official.
Store damaged automobiles in a secured fenced storage space.
Collect towing and storage fees from the owner of the vehicle by the sale of the vehicle without recourse to the town, unless it is found that no probable cause existed for the towing pursuant to G.S. 20-219.11.
Pay all damages to vehicles entrusted to his custody as the result of his negligence and to maintain, for the protection of the vehicle owners, garage keepers' legal liability insurance while performing any of the services provided for in this division.
Indemnify and save the town harmless from all liability for damages sustained by vehicles being towed or stored and all personal injuries occurring as a result of the towing or storage.
Remove from the scene of a vehicle accident, in which the vehicle to be towed was involved, all glass, metal or debris caused by the accident.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 17)
A private tow truck operator or business on the eligible list shall contract with the town to remove the vehicles described in this division from the public streets or other public places or private property upon the request of the authorizing official. The contract shall be in writing, shall specify the charges to be made for towing, and shall require the person entering into the contract for the towing of such vehicles to perform the service in a manner consistent with the provisions of this division and the rules prepared thereunder and shall provide for the forfeiture of the contract in the event of a violation of any of the provisions of the contract or of the provisions of this division. The contract shall further provide that the town shall not be obligated to the person undertaking the towing and storage of such vehicles for any damages which may be incurred in the performance of the obligation assumed by him but that the charge shall be collected solely from the owner of the vehicle involved, unless it is found that no probable cause existed for the towing of any vehicle pursuant to G.S. 20-219.11.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 18)
Unless written authorization is received as provided in this section, the amount which a private towing operator or business may charge for the towing of a motor vehicle at the request of an authorizing official pursuant to the provisions of this division shall not exceed $35.00 when the towing occurs between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., and shall not exceed $50.00 when the towing occurs between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. For the purposes of this section, towing occurs at the time the town contacts the private towing operator or business. If the towing requires extraordinary measures in order to be completed, the chief of police may authorize in writing a greater charge in order to compensate the private towing operator or business for the expense of such extraordinary measures.
(Ord. of 2-8-90, § 19)