[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Kenilworth as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Towing Authorized by or for the Borough of Kenilworth
Article II Towing of Vehicles from Private Property
[Adopted 12-14-1993 by Ord. No. 93-27]
This article shall be known as the "Towing, Road Service and Storage of Vehicles Ordinance of the Borough of Kenilworth."
The purpose and intent of this article is to provide criteria and standard operating procedures that are reasonable, nonexclusionary and nondiscriminatory in the selection and use of towing operators, on a rotational basis, for providing towing, road services and the storage of vehicles, including but not limited to the towing of vehicles that are abandoned, disabled, illegally parked or stolen, vehicles involved in accidents and/or those vehicles suspected or identified by the borough as being involved in criminal activities.
As used in this article, the terms listed below shall be defined as follows:
- BASIC TOWING SERVICE
- The removal and transportation of a vehicle from a highway, street or other public or private road, parking area or storage facility. This article and the definition herein shall not include the recovery of a vehicle from a position beyond the public right-of-way or berm or from being impaled upon any other object outside the public right-of-way or berm.
- DISABLED VEHICLE
- A vehicle which has been abandoned, impounded or rendered inoperable as a result of a mechanical failure, involvement in an accident or criminal activity. A vehicle, the location of which constitutes a hazard to the motoring public, shall be deemed "disabled" for the purposes of this chapter.
- The act of storing and confining a vehicle upon an order of the Police Department at either the towing operator's storage area or at a township facility as a result of abandonment, involvement in an accident or suspected criminal activity.
- INSIDE BUILDING STORAGE FACILITY
- A vehicle storage facility that is completely indoors, having the capacity to store at least three vehicles and provide twenty-four-hour security for the same and for the storing of impounded vehicles involved in criminal or other matters involving police investigations.
- OUTSIDE SECURED STORAGE FACILITY
- A vehicle storage facility that is not completely indoors and that is secured by a fence, wall or other man-made barrier that is at least six feet in height and is protected with on-site security or an alarm system. Outside storage facilities shall also maintain adequate lighting to protect stored vehicles from vandalism and shall be of sufficient size to accommodate a minimum of 60 vehicles.
- OUTSIDE UNSECURED STORAGE FACILITY
- A vehicle storage facility that is not indoors and is not secured by a fence, wall or other man-made barrier, and all other storage facilities not defined above as inside a building or outside secured.
- A person, firm, corporation or partnership who or which owns and/or operates a vehicle on the roads and highways within the Borough of Kenilworth, which vehicle, by reason of being disabled or abandoned on the roads and highways of the borough, requires towing and/or storage.
- TOWING OPERATOR
- A person, firm, corporation or partnership engaged in the business of providing towing, road and storage services for vehicles.
- TOWING/WRECKER VEHICLE
- A vehicle driven by mechanical power and employed for the purpose of towing, transporting, conveying or removing any and all kinds of vehicles or parts of vehicles which are unable to be operated under their own power. Such "towing vehicles" or "wreckers" mean only those vehicles that are equipped with a boom or booms, winches, slings, tilt beds, wheel lifts or underreach equipment specifically designed by its manufacturer for the removal or transport of private passenger automobiles or other vehicles.
No towing operator shall operate within the Borough of Kenilworth without first obtaining a license in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Specifically exempted from this license requirement is the towing, transporting, conveying or removing of vehicles from private property, except in the case of a police emergency within the borough, or by towing operators which are directly and privately engaged or designated by the owner of the vehicle to be towed, transported, conveyed or removed upon the streets of said Borough of Kenilworth.
Any person, firm, corporation or partnership operating a towing and storage business shall endeavor to maintain a principal place of operation within the Borough of Kenilworth.
Nothing herein shall preclude a towing operator from storing his towing vehicles and equipment, and towed vehicles, at another location outside the boundaries of the Borough of Kenilworth; provided, however, that said location is not more than one odometer mile from any boundary of the Borough of Kenilworth.
[Amended 3-12-1997 by Ord. No. 97-4]
All towing operators shall have inside and outside storage facilities which shall be lighted, fenced and/or secured in order to guarantee the safe storage of all vehicles in accordance with the minimum requirements for indoor and outdoor secured and unsecured storage facilities as defined under § 181A-3.
In addition to other equipment which is necessary for the safe performance of towing, emergency road and storage services, all towing operators must own or lease at least one conventional tow truck, one flatbed truck and one heavy-duty tow truck of at least 24,500 pounds recommended gross vehicle weight (RGVW).
All towing operators' trucks must be equipped with either two-way radio and/or mobile telephone communications equipment with their principal places of business, including their garages and/or facilities, to ensure the prompt availability of services and equipment on behalf of the borough and motorists.
All towing operators' trucks shall be equipped with brooms, shovels and any other street-sweeping equipment for the purpose of cleaning debris off the roadways. The towing operator shall at the time of removing any motor vehicle in response to a police request remove from the public or private roads or highways any motor vehicle debris or material in the area surrounding the vehicle, except for any debris or material which may be hazardous, such as oil, gasoline, kerosene or other petroleum or chemical products. The cleanup of debris, other than hazardous materials, shall be performed by the towing operator, without charge to the Borough of Kenilworth.
The towing operator's wrecker(s) and all other vehicles shall be properly licensed and registered with the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles. All towing operator vehicles shall display New Jersey commercial license plates.
All towing operators shall have facilities and equipment that will ensure and guarantee the furnishing of prompt and efficient services required pursuant to this chapter.
The towing operator's company name, address and telephone number(s) shall be prominently and permanently displayed on both sides of all wrecker(s) and other tow vehicles.
All towing operators selected to serve on a rotational basis must guarantee the availability of all services to the Police Department seven days a week, 24 hours a day. In this respect, a towing operator shall immediately respond to any type of towing, emergency road service or storage call with the appropriate vehicle and/or equipment within 20 minutes after receipt of telephone notification from the Police Department's dispatcher/desk officer. Unless heavy or unusual traffic conditions within the borough prevent a towing operator from arriving at the scene within 20 minutes, failure to respond within the time frame shall be considered a breach of this chapter. In the event that a towing operator fails to respond within 20 minutes from the time of the call, the Police Department reserves the right to contact the next available tow operator on the rotational list.
In times of emergencies and/or natural disasters, the Borough of Kenilworth reserves the right to contact other towing service operators who may not be on the rotational list.
The owner of a vehicle involved in an accident shall have the right, if he/she so desires, to designate a towing operator of his/her choice.
Employees of the towing operator, in responding to a call, shall request and be afforded police assistance during the course of providing towing, emergency road service or removal of abandoned or accident vehicles, when such employees find it necessary to turn around, back up, tow in the opposite direction of traffic or cross the median.
A towing operator shall not permit a vehicle to be removed from the site of a vehicle accident, the scene of a crime or any other instance or situation without the prior approval and permission of a police officer and/or superior at the scene.
Each towing operator licensed under this chapter shall also meet the following general standards of operation:
The storage facilities shall have proper sign identification upon the same and shall be kept clean so as to be reasonably accommodating to persons of the borough or others who may come upon said premises.
A tow operator shall not be charged with a call if the owner designates the tow operator.
All towing operators and their drivers shall be fully trained and knowledgeable in the operation of all required equipment and shall be subject to background investigations by the Kenilworth Police Department.
All drivers must appear in person at the Kenilworth Police Station and be registered prior to their operation of trucks on the borough roads or highways traversing said borough.
All drivers shall relay information to the police of the following: crimes, disabled vehicles, accidents, disasters, etc.
Towing operators and employees who drive vehicles on the borough roads or highways traversing said borough must have a driver's license with no restrictions or conditional endorsements, except a condition requiring glasses; they shall be of good moral character and mentally alert and present a neat appearance at all times. Possession by a driver of an articulated license, when required by law, is mandatory.
Towing operators will notify the Police Desk Officer immediately upon completion of service regarding all vehicles serviced on the borough roads or highways traversing said borough, regardless of how the service was originated. He will supply the Desk Officer with the year, make, license plate number, name of the last registered owner and the location and type of service rendered, if this information is available at the time.
Towing operators will be charged with a service call for an incident serviced on the highway, and not the number of vehicles serviced at the scene.
It shall be the obligation of the towing operator to immediately notify the police in the event that said towing operator is wholly or partially inoperable due to mechanical failure or personnel insufficiency.
Towing operators will notify the Police Desk Officer if a vehicle is gone upon their arrival; in such event, the towing operator will not be charged with the call.
Towing operators will not respond to or stop at any accident scene unless directed by the police, unless it is to notify the police of an unattended incident pursuant to Subsection O(5). This stop shall not give the tower a right to tow without police permission.
Towing operators will be responsible for all vehicles and their contents that were towed off the roadway under the direction of the police while in their custody. An inventory shall be made at the scene to note the contents of each vehicle.
Towing operators will notify the police on a weekly basis if they are in custody of any unclaimed vehicles.
Towing operators will cooperate with other operators in the case of emergency services at the scene of accidents and/or disasters.
If one towing operator assists another, the operator that bills the motorist will be charged with the service call.
No vehicle will be removed from the borough roads or highways traversing said borough without proper authorization from the police at the scene or the owner, as the case may be.
All vehicles impounded or confiscated shall not be released without proper written authorization from the Police Department. The storage facility or vendor shall post hours of release so that the owner or representative of the same may be informed as to when the facilities are operational for recovery of motor vehicles.
Towing operators shall dispatch, within the time permitted by this chapter, tow truck(s), when requested by the Desk Office to respond to a police requested call for service.
All towing operators shall maintain and produce proof to the Chief of Police of the following insurance coverage: automobile liability in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limit; worker's compensation as required by statute; garagekeepers' liability in an amount not less than $60,000 per location; garage liability in an amount not less than $1,000,000 for any one claimant and $2,000,000 for more than one claimant, with $1,000,000 coverage for property damage for any one event.
All towing operators shall be obligated to tow municipal vehicles (owned by the Borough of Kenilworth) in the event that they become disabled or involved in an incident without charge to the borough when such vehicle is within the boundaries of the Borough of Kenilworth.
Any vehicle impounded by or at the request or direction of the Police Department shall neither incur nor be charged any towing or storage fees during such impound period. After the vehicle is released from impound by the Police Department, the towing operator shall notify the registered owner at the address which appears on the registration, in writing, that the vehicle has been released from impound and the place and hours within which it may be picked up. If the registered owner fails to claim and remove the vehicle within three business days after notice of release of impound, the towing operator may charge a storage fee beginning on the fourth day after notification. The towing operator shall, upon issuance of a license pursuant to this chapter, sign an agreement to indemnify and hold the Police Department and the Borough of Kenilworth harmless in the event that any action to recover storage fees is commenced by the towing operator or owner which results in the Police Department or Borough of Kenilworth being joined as a party to such action.
Licenses issued pursuant to this chapter shall be for a term of one year. Said one-year period shall commence on June 1 and expire on May 31 of the following year. All applications must be received by the Chief of Police on or before February 1 of the year in which application is being made.
In order to assure provision of safe and efficient towing service throughout the borough to benefit the public good, all qualified operators pursuant to this chapter shall be issued a towing license.
Following the approval of applications by the Chief of Police, it shall be his responsibility to establish a towing operators' rotational duty service list. The Police Department shall call the towing operators in sequential order as set forth by the Chief so that each towing operator will be given the opportunity to respond to individual calls as received by the borough. The Police Department shall have the right to call the next towing operator on the list should a towing operator fail to respond to a call within 20 minutes.
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized to establish reasonable rules and regulations for the supervision, inspection and safe operation of tow trucks, wreckers and other related vehicles and equipment in accordance with the standards outlined in this section. The Chief shall maintain due vigilance over all towing operators to make certain that the tow trucks and other related vehicles and equipment are maintained in a safe working condition for transporting and hauling disabled vehicles. The Chief or his duly designated representative shall have the right at all times to inspect all towing vehicles and related equipment which perform services pursuant to this chapter.
At any time, should the Chief or his designee determine that the vehicles and/or equipment being used are unsafe, he shall have the power and authority to direct the immediate correction or repair of any automotive defect, malfunction or violation of motor vehicle regulations within a specified period of time to be determined by the Chief. The Chief of Police is authorized and empowered to establish and transmit from time to time to all tow operators on the rotational list such additional rules and regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter as may be reasonable and necessary in carrying out the provisions of this chapter.
The Chief of Police shall have the power to suspend a towing operator from the rotational duty service list for a period of up to 30 calendar days for failure to comply with any section of this chapter. A subsequent violation may result in the permanent removal of a towing operator from the rotational duty service list for a twelve-month period. A towing operator may appeal the Chief's ruling of either a suspension or a permanent removal. In such cases, an appeal may be filed with the Borough of Kenilworth within 10 business days of the Chief's decision. A hearing may be held by the Kenilworth Borough Council within 30 business days of the filing. The Kenilworth Borough Council shall render its determination within 20 business days following the conclusion of the hearing. The governing body's determination as rendered shall be final and conclusive under this article.
In addition, failure to comply with the borough's Zoning, Land Use and Property Maintenance Codes may subject any operator to suspension from the rotational duty service list upon request to the Chief of Police from the borough's Construction Code Official or Zoning Enforcement Officer. Any towing operator suspended from the rotational duty service list shall have the right to due process and appeal as set forth in Subsection A above.
No controlling interest in a license issued pursuant to this article shall be assigned, transferred or sold, except on specific approval of the governing body of the Borough of Kenilworth, and, upon cessation of activity or authority under the license through revocation or otherwise, the license shall be determined null and void. In no event shall any such license be posted as collateral. At the time of application for said license, the towing operator shall complete and submit, on borough forms, a statement of ownership. Any controlling interest transfer of ownership in a licensee's business, be it actual transfer or stock ownership, without borough approval, shall render the license void. In the event of sale or transfer, the new applicant, if any, shall make a new application and pay fees and be approved by the governing body of the Borough of Kenilworth.
The Police Department of the Borough of Kenilworth shall provide, when requested, towing operators with the Department of Motor Vehicle information regarding registered owners and lien holders. This information requested and given shall be in conformance with N.J.S.A. 39:10A-1 et seq. and shall not in any way violate the confidentiality that is reposed in the Police Department.
Upon the adoption of this article, the Borough Clerk shall give 30 days' public notice of the receipt of the license application pursuant to this article. Public notice shall be given by publication in an appropriate newspaper circulated within the borough. All towing operators, consistent with this article, who meet the requirements established by this article shall be eligible for the issuance of a license upon payment of the required fees.
The license issuing authority shall be the governing body of the Borough of Kenilworth. Any falsification or material misrepresentation on the application or subsequently made by the applicant or licensee shall constitute grounds for denial or revocation of any license issued hereunder.
Any person, firm or corporation who or which willfully violates any of the provisions of this article shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, or both. Each and every violation of this article or each and every day that any violation shall be permitted to continue shall be construed as a separate and distinct violation. The Police Department shall enforce the provisions of this article and shall have the authority to serve and execute process for violations hereof.
The Municipal Court shall have jurisdiction over proceedings to enforce and collect any fine imposed because of a violation of this article.
The Chief of Police and the Police Department are hereby designated to administer and enforce all provisions of this article.
[Adopted 9-23-1998 by Ord. No. 98-26]
This article shall be known and cited as the "Private Property Towing Ordinance."
The purpose of this article is two-fold and intended to recognize the property rights of landowners and landlords who provide off-street private parking facilities to residential tenants and commercial/business tenants and their customers, while at the same time establishing uniform rules and procedures to protect the general public from unscrupulous towers from creating extraordinary inconvenience to owners of towed vehicles and from charging excessive prices for towing and storage.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The act of parking a tow truck on or near a private lot, facility or property with the sole intention of having the operator or some other person identifying vehicles that may be parked in violation of posted warning signs.
- STORAGE FACILITY
- A lot or parcel of land, or a building or buildings, at which the tower shall store and maintain any vehicle towed pursuant to this article, which facility shall not be located more than one odometer mile from any geographical boundary line of the Borough of Kenilworth.
- Any person, firm or incorporated or unincorporated entity engaged in the business of towing vehicles from private property in agreement with the owner or operator of a private lot, facility or property; provided, however, that "tower" as defined herein shall not include services as defined in Article I of this article, nor shall it include towers who tow vehicles at the request of the vehicle's owner.
No person, firm or incorporated or unincorporated entity shall engage in towing activities pursuant to this article without first obtaining a registration card from the Kenilworth Police Department.
The applicant shall provide the following information on forms to be provided by the Kenilworth Police Department:
Name, address and telephone number of the applicant.
If the applicant is an unincorporated partnership, the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all partners.
If the applicant is a corporation or L.L.C., the name, address and telephone numbers of all the stock holders or members of the company and the name, address and telephone numbers of the registered agent.
A list of all vehicles to be used to provide towing services, to include the make, model, year, serial number and license plate number of each vehicle.
The location of the storage facility at which towed vehicles will be stored, including street address, town, and lot and block number. The applicant shall also state whether applicant owns, rents or leases the facility. If the facility is rented or leased, applicant shall provide the name, address and telephone number of the owner and/or landlord and shall annex to the application a certified true copy of the lease or rental agreement.
The applicant shall provide the name, address and driver's license number of each employee authorized to operate the applicant's towing vehicles.
Each applicant shall provide the Police Department with a valid certificate of commercial automobile liability insurance with combined liability limits of at least $1,000,000.
Each applicant shall sign a certification, acknowledged by a notary public, stating that the information contained in the registration form is true and accurate.
The Police Department shall review the application form, verify the accuracy of the information contained therein and issue a registration card to the applicant. The registration card shall be conspicuously displayed in the windshield of the passenger side of the vehicle while the tower is engaged in any towing activity on private property which is regulated by this article.
Each applicant shall pay a registration fee of $250 for each vehicle to be used for towing activities regulated by this article.
Except as otherwise provided for in Subsection C below, all registration applications shall be submitted to the Police Department on or before May 1 of each year for processing. The registration year shall begin on June I and expire on May 31 of the following year.
On and after the first day this article becomes law and prior to May 1 next succeeding the date of adoption, any person may apply for registration pursuant to this article and shall pay a prorated application fee equal to $20 for each month or portion thereof remaining from date of application to May 1 next succeeding the date of adoption of this article.
No owner or operator of a private lot, facility or property shall tow, allow, permit or cause to be towed any vehicle from said lot, facility or property unless there shall be posted warning signs conspicuously located at each entrance and exit of the facility. Each such sign shall have dimensions of two feet by two feet and shall contain the information set forth in Subsection B herein. Each facility shall have a minimum of two signs.
Warning signs shall contain the following information:
The name of the tower or towing firm.
The towing firm's twenty-four-hour monitored telephone number.
The address and/or location of the storage lot or facility at which towed cars will be stored.
The words "UNAUTHORIZED VEHICLES WILL BE TOWED" in letters at least two inches high.
The towing fee and/or rates to be charged to the owner of towed vehicles.
Each vehicle to be towed must be inspected by the tower prior to towing for existing damage and a towed vehicle report must be filled out before the vehicle is removed from its place. The report shall describe the existing damage to the vehicle and shall be kept at the towing storage facility for inspection by any interested party.
Before a vehicle has been hooked and lifted and before it has been removed from its original parking place, a written report shall be submitted to the Kenilworth Police Department by the tower. The report shall be on forms available at the Kenilworth Police Department and shall contain the following information:
No vehicle shall be removed from its original place by any tower until it has been established by the Police Department that said vehicle is not a stolen vehicle or one which has been used in the commission of a crime.
Should a vehicle be found to be stolen or wanted in connection with the commission of any crime, the Kenilworth Police Department shall be dispatched to the location and shall maintain control and custody of the vehicle and the location to ensure the preservation of evidence.
Should the NCIC/SCIC computers be down, the Police Department shall authorize the towing of the vehicle and again check with NCIC/SCIC within 24 hours. If the vehicle is found to be stolen or otherwise wanted, the tower shall surrender the vehicle to the care, custody and control of the Kenilworth Police Department at no charge.
No vehicle shall be hooked, lifted or moved by a tower without the authorization of the Kenilworth Police Department.
If a vehicle is towed in violation of any section of this article, the vehicle is to be released at no cost for towing or storage to the owner.
No person shall charge, allow to be charged or collect a fee or charge for towing pursuant to this article except as herein allowed.
If the vehicle has not been lifted prior to the owner's return to the lot, whether it is hooked up or not, it is to be released by the tower at no charge.
If the vehicle has been lifted but not removed from the lot prior to the owner's return to the lot, a fee of not more than 20% of the authorized towing service fee, as indicated on the warning signs for the lot, may be imposed for the release of said vehicle.
Any vehicle which has been towed from the parking lot, regardless of how far, before the owner's arrival, may be assessed the full amount of the authorized towing fee.
The maximum fees which may be charged for the towing and storage of any vehicle from private property by a tower shall be as follows:
For any vehicle having a registered gross vehicle weight (RGVW) of 6,000 pounds or less, the maximum allowable charge shall be $50.
For any vehicle having a RGVW of more than 6,000 pounds, the maximum allowable charge shall be $60.
For the storage of any vehicle, a maximum of $10 per day, except that there shall be no charge for the first day of storage.
It shall be unlawful for a tower to charge any person a fee for recovering a towed vehicle other than the fees permitted herein. Any tower who violates this section shall, in addition to the penalties that may be assessed herein, be subject to an additional penalty of three times any additional fee or fees collected in violation of this subsection and shall also be required to reimburse the car's owner for the unlawful charges actually paid.
It shall be a violation of this article for any person to engage in, or for any owner or operator of a private lot, facility or property to allow any person to engage in, the act of spotting as that term is defined in § 181A-20.
The provisions of this article shall be enforced by the Kenilworth Police Department.
Any owner or operator of a storage facility or a tower, as defined in § 181A-20 of this article, who violates any provision contained herein shall, upon conviction in Municipal Court, be subject to the following fines and penalties:
For a first offense: a fine not to exceed $500, imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both in the discretion of the court.
For a second offense, where such offense is committed within 12 months of a first offense a minimum fine of $500 but not to exceed $1,000, imprisonment of 90 days, or both, in the discretion of the court.
In addition to the penalties provided for in Subsection A of this section, upon conviction of a second offense, a tower shall surrender his or her registration certificate to the Municipal Court and shall forfeit the right to tow vehicles pursuant to this article for a period of six months from the date of conviction. Upon conviction of a third or subsequent offense, a tower shall surrender his or her registration certificate and shall forfeit his or her right to tow vehicles pursuant to this article.