Borough of Kenilworth, NJ
Union County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Kenilworth 12-9-2015 by Ord. No. 2015-08.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Fees and licenses — See Ch. 91.
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 190.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 181A, Towing, consisting of Art. I, Towing Authorized by or for the Borough of Kenilworth, adopted 12-14-1993 by Ord. No. 93-27, as amended, and Art. II, Towing of Vehicles from Private Property, adopted 9-23-1998 by Ord. No. 98-26.
A. 
The purpose of this ordinance amending Chapter 181A is to promote the public safety and welfare within the Borough and to update the Borough's towing laws to conform to the statutes and regulations of the State of New Jersey for the nonconsensual towing of all motor vehicles from private property within the Borough of Kenilworth. In addition to the foregoing purpose, this chapter establishes mercantile licensing and rules and regulations associated with the towing and storage of motor vehicles from private property from within the Borough of Kenilworth when the services are not contracted for by the owner, operator or designated agent for the vehicle.
B. 
This chapter is only applicable to vehicles that are towed without the expressed permission of the owner or driver and when the tow is not initiated by the Borough of Kenilworth.
All tow operators engaged in nonconsensual towing or recovery of motor vehicles from private property (without the express permission of the owner or operator) shall comply with the minimum requirements mandated by the regulations promulgated in the State of New Jersey by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and as they may be amended.
A. 
No entity or individual shall operate a towing service for nonconsensual towing initiated within the Borough limits unless such entity or individual shall have obtained a towing license issued by the Borough Clerk for Kenilworth, in accordance with this chapter.
B. 
No license shall be issued without first having the designated member of the Kenilworth Police Department inspect the applicant for compliance with this chapter. The applicant inclusive of any tow truck driver, officer, director, limited liability member or stockholder with control or ownership (directly or indirectly) who holds in excess of 9% ownership may have been convicted of a crime under Title 2C of the New Jersey State Statutes other than a disorderly person (DP) offense within the prior three years or have been found guilty by a court of law of a crime or event of moral turpitude.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
C. 
The initial license fee for an applicant is included in Chapter 91, Fees and Licenses, which shall be paid to the Borough prior to the inspection with the completed application as formulated by the Chief of Police and the Borough Attorney. The application shall include fingerprints for all drivers, owners, managers and officers for the tow truck company. Once a completed application is received by the Police Department, it shall be reviewed and acted upon within 30 days. Any application materially incomplete or deficient for cause shall be subject to re-examination upon completion with an additional charge as set forth in Chapter 91, Fees and Licenses, provided that it is supplied within 14 days after receipt of the Police Chief's detailed explanation for the failure to issue a license.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
D. 
The license to tow from private property shall commence on the first day of the month following approval by the Chief of Police and remain valid for 12 months. During said period, any new employees shall provide their fingerprints to the Chief of Police within 10 days after first day of employment.
E. 
During the 11th month of the annual license, the applicant desirous of continuing as a nonconsensual tower from private property shall resubmit an initial application to the Borough Clerk with any changes that are to be highlighted in yellow and an application fee as set forth in Chapter 91, Fees and Licenses.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
F. 
The towing services must utilize a secured storage site enclosed that is properly zoned and which is located less than 13 aerial miles from the Borough's Police Department and the driving time from the Borough must take no more than 30 minutes during normal driving conditions on or about 12:00 noon on a weekday. When calculating distance and/or time, the Garden State Parkway shall not be utilized.
G. 
No Borough of Kenilworth employee or former law enforcement officer having served in said capacity within the prior five years within Union County shall be employed by the towing operator.
H. 
Once a vehicle that is being towed without the owner's consent from private property, the tower shall immediately report to the Kenilworth Police Department prior to taking it to its storage yard and shall advise the dispatcher on duty of the make, model and plate number of the vehicle being towed, the location from which it has been removed, to where the vehicle is being taken for storage and any obvious preexisting body damage, in writing, on the form approved by the Chief of Police. The tow operator shall leave with the dispatcher a business card for the tow service at that time.
No towing license shall be transferred from the entity or individuals named on the initial application. No towing license may be operated under a managerial contract.
A. 
Licensed towing services may only charge fees to vehicle owners for the following services:
(1) 
Basic tow, which shall be a maximum flat fee of $160 for light-duty tows and $800 for heavy-duty tows.
(2) 
Storage charges at a towing company's storage facility shall be based upon a twenty-four-hour day with the first two hours without cost to the patron. Thereafter, a maximum daily rate for each full day shall be $50 for light-duty tows and $150 for heavy-duty tows. If the heavy-duty tow is for a tractor-trailer combination, then the total charge is $500.
(3) 
Any vehicle that is still on the private property when attached to the tow truck must be released to the operator for 25% of the tow charge.
B. 
No towing service may use the New Jersey Parkway in conjunction with the service provided under this license unless authority to do so has been granted by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
C. 
A licensed towing service that engages in private property towing from property within the Borough shall calculate storage fees based upon full twenty-four-hour periods a motor vehicle is in the storage facility. For example, if a motor vehicle is towed to a storage facility at 8:00 p.m. on one day and the owner of the motor vehicle retrieves the motor vehicle before 7:30 p.m. the next day, the towing company shall charge the owner of the motor vehicle only for one day of storage. If a motor vehicle is stored for more than 24 hours, but less than 48 hours, the towing company may charge for two days of storage.
D. 
A towing company performing a private property tow or other nonconsensual tow shall take the motor vehicle being towed to the towing company's approved storage facility as registered with the Borough and to no other yard.
E. 
The bill for any tow allowed herein shall include the time at which a towed motor vehicle arrived at the towing service's storage site, the time the request was initiated, the time the tow truck operator arrived at the site of the tow and the date and time the vehicle was retrieved.
F. 
In addition to the fees allowed to be charged against towed vehicles within this section, the Borough shall charge an administrative charge of $25 for the release of the vehicle which is to be collected by the tower and paid to the Borough monthly with an accounting of the number of tows, the itemized statement and additional information as may be reasonably required by the Chief of Police to ensure compliance with this chapter.
A. 
All persons operating a towing vehicle within the municipality, and all their agents, shall keep in their possession business cards with the name of the company and the address of the place of business and the telephone number along with the hours of operation.
B. 
The bill shall contain the following information:
(1) 
Full name, address and business telephone number of the towing service.
(2) 
Full name of the person engaging the towing vehicle.
(3) 
State registration number or license plate number of the vehicle being towed.
(4) 
Address of the storage site to which the vehicle will be towed.
C. 
All bills for services, estimates and contracts relating to the towing of vehicles by licensees shall be in writing and shall conform to the provisions of this chapter and state law. No oral agreements shall be made with vehicle owners or authorized agents of owners.
D. 
The licensee shall keep an accurate record of all towing calls made at the request of the Borough. The Borough shall be provided with a copy of all bills and invoices relating to the licensee's services to the Borough for the preceding month on or before the second Monday of the month along with the administrative fee.
E. 
The Borough shall have no financial responsibility for the services provided by towing services within the Borough, unless provided for in N.J.S.A. 56:13-7 or N.J.A.C. 13:45A-31.1.
F. 
Towing services operating within the Borough shall abide by all state statutes, rules and regulations, and any violation of a state statute, rule or regulation shall be considered a violation of this chapter which may affect the rights of the licensee.
G. 
The licensee shall maintain records of all vehicles towed, stored and released by it. Records shall be kept for a four-year period. These records shall include the name and contact information of the person summoning the licensee, name of towing employee, the date and time of tow-in, destination towed, vehicle tag number and state, vehicle identification number, make, model, color and year of vehicle, itemized charges to the owner of the vehicle and the disposition of the vehicle and date and time thereof.
H. 
The Chief of Police shall, upon request, have immediate access to any and all of the required records during normal business hours during the week.
I. 
The licensee must permit payment of fees by the use of at least two major credit cards. The Borough will not be held liable for, or assist the licensee in, the collection of any unpaid fees that were incurred under the provisions of this chapter. Any individual that fails to honor a charge made on a credit card or issued a check that was not honored in payment for the services rendered by the tower may be charged under Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes with a theft of services or theft by deception in the Municipal Court for the Borough.
J. 
Any vehicle that remains in the custody or control of the tower for more than five business days shall be reported to the Borough Clerk and the Chief of Police, in writing, before the ninth business day from the date it was removed from the private property. Failure to comply with this provision shall reduce the tower's entitlement for storage charges to $1 a day for said vehicle. If the vehicle remains more than 30 days in storage without being reported to the Borough, the tower and its principals shall have their license revoked for three years.
The provisions of this chapter shall be enforced by the Kenilworth Police Department.
A. 
In addition to any other penalties set forth within this chapter or under other Borough ordinances or under state laws for violations by licensees, the Police Chief may recommend to the Public Safety Committee of the Borough's governing body suspension or revocation of license, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, suspend a license for a period of no less than one week nor more than five weeks or, for continued violations after a period of suspension, revoke any license for any remaining period or any portion thereof.
B. 
For severe violations and/or recurring violations, the Chief of Police may, after notice and an opportunity to be heard before the Police Committee of the Borough Council, revoke any license and, in addition, use such violation as the determining factor for refusing to approve subsequent annual applications for a period of not less than one month but no more than 12 months.
C. 
Hearings held before the Public Safety Committee shall be open to the public and held within 10 business days unless an adjournment is requested by either party for up to 10 additional days.
A. 
Unless otherwise specified herein, any individual and/or entity violating any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof before the Municipal Court, be subject to a fine not exceeding:
(1) 
For the first offense: no less than $50 and up to $100 in any calendar year.
(2) 
For the second offense: not less than $250 nor more than $500 in any calendar year.
(3) 
For the third or subsequent offense: not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five days, or both.
B. 
The actual amount of each penalty shall be determined by the sound discretion of the Municipal Judge. In addition to the aforementioned penalties, and as provided for herein, violations of this chapter may subject the license to suspension or revocation as provided for herein and the violation may be reported to the Attorney General responsible for predatory towing.
C. 
If the Chief of Police determines that the tower should have its license suspended or revoked, written notice shall be sent by certified mail to the tower. No suspension or revocation of a license shall become effective until a full five business days after posting by certified mail of the determination to suspend or revoke a license.
Prior to bringing any formal complaint before the Municipal Court or the Department of Community Affairs for inadvertent disputed charges, the charged party disputing any charge must notify the Borough Clerk within 14 days of payment having been tendered. Thereafter, the Chief of Police shall investigate the basis of the dispute and make a nonbinding recommendation to the tower within 15 days. If the complainant accepts the payment as recommended by the Chief of Police, then the complainant formally waives any further action or claim against the tower.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
Any applicant which is denied an application to tow from private property as a nonconsensual tower within the Borough or which has its license suspended or revoked shall be entitled to a hearing before the Public Safety Committee within the following 10 days, provided that a written request is received by the Borough Clerk and the Borough Attorney who shall serve as a hearing officer. If three members of the Police Committee are unavailable to hear the matter, then any other member of the governing body may sit as a hearing officer.
Each section, subsection, sentence, clause and phrase of this chapter is declared to be an independent section, subsection, sentence, clause and phrase, and the finding or holding of any such portion of this chapter to be unconstitutional, void, or ineffective for any cause, or reason, shall not affect any other portion of this chapter.
All Borough ordinances and parts of ordinances that are inconsistent with this chapter are hereby repealed.
The existing tower for the municipality shall continue to serve the Borough with the above rate schedule until this chapter shall be in full force and effect. This chapter is effective after its adoption and its publication as required by law.