Swepsonville Living

Abandoned And Junk Motor Vehicle Ordinance

                  ARTICLE I

1. Purpose.    The purpose of this ordinance is to regulate, restraint or prohibit abandoned, nuisance or junked motor vehicles on public grounds and on private property within the Town of Swepsonville. The Town hereby finds that regulation, restraint and prohibition is necessary and desirable to promote or enhance the community, neighborhood or area appearance.

ARTICLE II

2. Administration.    The Town of Swepsonville shall be responsible for the administration and enforcement of this Ordinance on the public streets and highways within the Town and on property owned by the Town as well as vehicles located on private property. The Town may designate from time to time an appropriate official to carry out the duties imposed in this ordinance. 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.

ARTICLE III

3. Definitions.    The following words, terms and phrases when used in this article shall have the meanings described in this section except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning.

(a) Abandoned vehicle means, as authorized and defined in North Carolina General Statute l60A-303, a vehicle that is:

(1) left upon a public street or highway in violation of a law or ordinance prohibiting parking; or
(2) left on a public street or highway for longer then seven days; or
(3) left upon property owned and operated by the city for longer then 24 hours; or
(4) left on private property without the consent of the owner, occupant or lessee thereof for longer then two hours.

(b) Authorized official means an employee of the Town of Swepsonville or other official designated by the Town Council to authorize the removal of vehicles under the provisions of this ordinance.

(c) Junked motor vehicle means, as authorized and defined in North Carolina General Statute 160A-303.2, a vehicle that does not display a current license plate lawfully upon that vehicle and that:

(1) is partially dismantled or wrecked; or
(2) cannot be self propelled or moved in the manner in which it was originally intended to move; or
(3) is more then five years old and appears to be worth less than $100.00.

(d) Motor vehicle or vehicle means all machines designated or intended to travel over land by self propulsion or while attached to any self-propelled vehicle.

(e) Nuisance vehicle means a vehicle on public or private property that is determined and declared to be a health and safety hazard, a public nuisance and unlawful including a vehicle found to be:

(1) a breeding ground or harbor for mosquitoes, other insects, rats or other pests; or
(2) a point of heavy growth of weeds or other noxious vegetations over 8 inches in height; or
(3) a point of collection of pools or ponds of water; or
(4) a point of concentration of quantities of gasoline, oil or other flammable or explosive materials as evidenced by odor; or
(5) one which has areas of confinement which cannot be opened from the inside such as a trunk, hood, etc.; or
(6) so situated or located that there is a danger of it falling or turning over; or
(7) one which is a point of collection of garbage, food waste, animal waste, or any other rotten or putrescible matter of any kind; or
(8) one which has sharp parts thereof which are jagged or contain sharp edges, metal or glass; or
(9) any other vehicles specifically declared a health or safety hazard and a public nuisance by the Town Council.

ARTICLE IV

4. Abandoned Vehicle Unlawful—Removal Authorized.

(a) It should be unlawful for the registered owner or person entitled to possession of a motor vehicle to cause or allow such vehicle to be abandoned; and

(b) Upon investigation, properly authorized officials of the Town may determine that the vehicle is an abandoned vehicle and order the vehicle removed.

ARTICLE V

5. Nuisance Vehicle Unlawful - Removal Authorized.

(a) It shall be unlawful for the registered owner or person entitled to possession of a motor vehicle or for the owner, lessee, or occupancy 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; and
(b) Upon investigation the authorized official may determine and declare that a vehicle is a health and safety hazard and/or nuisance vehicle and ordered the vehicle removed.

ARTICLE VI

6. Junked Motor Vehicle Regulated - Removal Authorized.

(a) It shall be unlawful for the registered owner or person entitled to 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;

(b) It shall be unlawful to have more than one junked motor vehicle on the premises of public or private property. A single permitted junked vehicle must be stored in strict compliance with the location and concealment requirements of this section;

(c) It shall be unlawful for any owner, person entitled to possession of the 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;

(d) Subject to the provisions of subsection (e) of this section, upon investigation, the authorized official may order the removal of the 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 findings shall be based on the balancing of the monetary loss of the current 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: (1) protection of property values, (2) promotion of tourism and other economic development opportunities, (3) indirect protection of public health and safety, (4) preservation of character, integrity of the community and (5) promotion of the comfort, happiness and emotional stability of the area residents.

(e) One junked vehicle in its entirety can be located in the rear yard, as defined by the Town of Swepsonville, if the junked motor vehicle is entirely concealed from public view, from a public street, and from abutting premises by acceptable covering or enclosure. The authorized official has the authority to determine whether any junked motor vehicle is adequately concealed as required by this provision. The covering or enclosure 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 article. 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 that either a lawful, conforming use of a garage or building structure erected pursuant to the lawful issuance of a building permit which had been constructed in accordance with all regulations of the Town of Swepsonville.

ARTICLE VII

7. Removal of Abandoned, Nuisance or Junked Motor Vehicles; Pre-Towing Notice Requirements.

Except as set forth in paragraph 8, an abandoned, nuisance or junked motor 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 a case of a nuisance vehicle or junked motor vehicle, if the names and mailing address of the registered owners or persons entitled to 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 the written records 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 or after a specified date, no sooner then seven days after the notice is affixed. The notice shall state that vehicle will be removed by the Town on or after a specified date, no sooner then seven days after the notice is affixed, unless the vehicle is moved by the owner, or the legal possessor prior to that date. With respect to abandoned vehicles on private property, nuisance vehicles or 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 Town Council in writing, heard at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Town Council and further proceedings to remove the vehicle shall be stayed until the appeal is heard and decided.

ARTICLE VIII

8. Exceptions to Prior Notice Requirements.    The requirement of paragraph 7 that notice be given prior to the removal of an abandoned, nuisance or junked motor vehicle may, as determined by the authorized official, be omitted in those circumstances where there is a need for prompt action to eliminate a traffic obstruction or otherwise maintain and protect the public's safety and welfare. Such finding shall in all cases be entered by the authorized official in the appropriate Town records.
Circumstances justifying the removal of vehicles without prior notice includes:

(1) Vehicles Abandoned on the Streets.    For vehicles left on the public streets and highways, the Town Council determines that the immediate removal of such vehicles may be warranted in that they are:

(a) obstructing traffic,
(b) parked in violation of an ordinance prohibiting or restricting parking,
(c) parked in a no stopping or standing zone,
(d) parked in loading zones,
(e) parked in bus zones, or
(f) parked in violation of temporary parking restrictions imposed under ordinance sections.

(2) Other Abandoned or Nuisance Vehicles.    With respect to abandoned or nuisance vehicles left on Town owned property other than the streets and highways and on private property, such vehicles may be removed without given prior notice only in those circumstances where the authorizing official finds a 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 regress 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.

ARTICLE IX

9. Removal of Vehicles - Post Towing Notice Requirements.

(a) 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 contracted 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 and such notice shall include the following:

(1) a description of the removed vehicle,
(2) the location of where the vehicle is stored,
(3) the violation under which the owner is charged, if any,
(4) the procedure the owner must follow to redeem the vehicle and
(5) the procedure the owner must follow to request a probable cause hearing on the removal.

(b) 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 of this section will 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.

(c) If the vehicle was 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 time of removal of the vehicle.

(d) Whenever an abandoned, nuisance or junked motor vehicle is removed, and such vehicle has no valid registration or registration plates, the authorized Town official shall make reasonable efforts, including checking the vehicle identification number to determine the last known registered owner of the vehicle and notify him of the information set forth in subsections (a) I through 5 of this section.

ARTICLE X

10. Right to Probable Cause Hearing Before Sale or Final Disposition of Vehicle.    After 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 shall set the hearing within 72 hours of receipt of the request and the hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of N.C.O.S. 20-222.

ARTICLE XI

11. Redemption of Vehicle During Proceedings.    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 and 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 the vehicle, the owner or person entitled to the possession of the vehicle shall not allow or engage in further violations of this article.

ARTICLE XII

12. Sale and Disposition of Unclaimed Vehicle.    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 coordination with the Town and in accordance with General Statute 44A-l et seq.

ARTICLE XIII

13. Conditions on Removal of Vehicles From Private Property.    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 the vehicle is a nuisance vehicle or is a junked motor vehicle which has been ordered removed by the authorized official of the Town. 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 loss, expense or liability incurred because of the removal, storage or sale thereof.

ARTICLE XIV

14. Protection Against Criminal or Civil Liability.    No person shall be held to answer in any civil or criminal action to any owner or the person legally entitled to the possession of any abandoned, nuisance or junked motor vehicle for disposing of such vehicle as provided in this article.

ARTICLE XV

15. Exceptions.    Nothing in this article shall apply to any vehicle which is:

(1) located in a bona fide automobile graveyard or junkyard as defined in North Carolina General Statute 136-43 in accordance with the Junkyard Control Act, North Carolina General Statute 136-141 et seq.; or
(2) on the premises of a business enterprise being operated on a lawful place and in a manner if the vehicle is necessary for the operation of the enterprise; or
(3) an appropriate storage place or depository maintained in a lawful place and manned by the Town.

ARTICLE XVI

16. Unlawful Removal of Impounded Vehicle.    It shall be unlawful for any person to remove or attempt to remove from any storage facility designated by the Town and any vehicle which has been impounded pursuant to the provisions of this article unless or until all towing and impoundment fees which are due, or bond in lieu of such fees, have been paid.

ARTICLE XVII

17. Illegal Activity.    Nothing in this article is intended to give permission to conduct an illegal activity in a residential zone such as auto repairs that is otherwise prohibited by other Town ordinances.