[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Wrightstown by Ord. No. 1992-4 (Chapter XIX of the Revised General Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Pursuant to and in accordance with the terms of P.L. 1991, c. 142 (N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.49) the borough hereby regulates the removal of motor vehicles from private or public property by operators engaged in such practice and establishes the fees to be charged for said removal and storage, as well as penalties for any violations hereof. It is the expressed policy of this borough that no qualified applicant will be excluded from this program or denied approval on the basis of race, religion, gender or national origin or be in any other way discriminated against unlawfully.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- BASE OF SERVICE
- The towing operator's principal place of business where the tow vehicle is stationed when not in use.
- INSIDE BUILDINGS
- A vehicle storage facility that is completely indoors, having one or more openings in the walls for storage and removal of motor vehicles and that is secured by a locking device on each opening.
- MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
- An occurrence in which a motor vehicle comes in contact with any other object for which the motor vehicle must be towed or removed for placement in a storage facility.
- MOTOR VEHICLES
- Includes all vehicles propelled otherwise than by muscular power, excepting such vehicles as run only upon rails or tracks and motorized bicycles.
- OUTSIDE SECURED
- A motor vehicle storage facility that is not indoors and is secured by a fence, wall or other man-made barrier that is at least six feet high and is installed with a passive alarm system or similar on-site security measure. The facility is to be lighted at night.
- OUTSIDE UNSECURED
- An automobile 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 building or outside secured.
- STORAGE CHARGES FOR TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR PERIOD
- The maximum allowable amount to be charged by a storage facility for a twenty-four-hour period or fraction thereof. A new twenty-four-hour period beings at 12:01 a.m.
- TOWING SERVICE
- The removal and transportation of a motor vehicle from a highway, street or other public or private road, or a parking area, or from a storage facility, and other services normally incident thereto.
- TOW VEHICLE
- Only those vehicles equipped with a boom or booms, winches, slings, tilt beds, wheel lifts of under-reach equipment specifically designed by its manufacturer for the removal or transport of motor vehicles.
A list of qualified and eligible operators shall be compiled and maintained by the towing inspector.
Towing service operators shall be selected from said list on a rotating basis to ensure fair and reasonable access to towing jobs within the borough.
In order to be placed on said list, a towing service must agree to comply with the conditions and regulations set forth in this chapter.
Applications for inclusion on the borough's towing service list shall be evaluated on the basis of response time and not by geographic location of the operator's base of service.
All applications must be submitted to the towing inspector for review and processing.
Basis for review.
All applicants must meet minimum standards of operator performance, including but not necessarily limited to standards concerning the adequacy of the applicant's equipment and facilities, availability and response time, and the security of vehicles towed or stored.
In addition to the minimum standards of performance referred to in the preceding subsection, all applicants are subject to disqualification if found deficient in any one or more of the following areas:
Unfavorable background check by the borough's Police Department.
Disqualified because of criminal convictions, unless waived for cause.
Provided inaccurate information on the application form.
Fails to have a satisfactory Better Business Service Bureau report.
Lacks experience and/or does not have good references from prior customers of the applicant's towing and/or storage service.
Lacks available personnel to carry out the duties required of a towing and/or storage service.
Lacks the proper business/trade licenses.
Does not have available the type of tow vehicle needed for the services contemplated.
Lacks acceptable storage facilities, whether an inside building, or outside secured or outside unsecured to accommodate the vehicles which the borough anticipates will be towed and/or stored in accordance with this chapter.
All recommendations for approval or disapproval by the towing inspector shall be made to the governing body, which shall make the final decision with regard to inclusion on the list herein provided for.
Upon approval by the governing body, a towing service shall be placed on the borough's approved list of towing services.
Inclusion on said list shall run for one year and shall be renewable each succeeding year without the need for reapplication.
All approvals granted hereunder shall be nontransferable and may be summarily revoked by the borough if the governing body finds that any towing service or storage facility is in violation of any of the terms of this chapter, has supplied fraudulent or inaccurate information on its application or has provided unsatisfactory service, or is in violation of Department of Insurance rules, or for any other good cause shown.
All persons approved pursuant to this chapter must maintain in force at all times during the term of the approval liability insurance in a form and amount acceptable to the governing body but at a minimum in the types and limits set forth below.
Automobile liability in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limit;
Workmen's compensation coverage as required by general law;
Garage keepers' liability in an amount not less than $60,000 per location;
Garage liability in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limit; and
Miscellaneous coverage to provide complete protection to the borough against any and all risks of loss or liability, including comprehensive general liability.
Policies must be endorsed to provide collision coverage for vehicles in tow.
The borough is to be included as an additional insured in all such policies.
All approved towing services shall produce proof of coverage at the time of application for said approval.
All approved towing services must provide indemnification against all loss by the borough growing out of services rendered by them pursuant to this chapter and if there is any interruption of coverage, whether it be because of policy cancellation, revision or for any other reason, the towing service must immediately notify the borough and failure to do so would entitle the borough to immediately revoke the approval granted hereunder.
Assignments for towing service shall be made on a rotating basis from the list of those granted approvals hereunder, and said list shall be used by this borough's Police Department or emergency services to acquire towing service in connection with a motor vehicle accident or for any other emergency.
The towing inspector of this borough is the municipal officer designated to enforce the provisions of this chapter in accordance with due process of law.
The regulations of this chapter and the fee schedules referred to herein shall be available for inspection by the public in the Borough Clerk's office during normal business hours.
All facilities and equipment used by approved towing services hereunder shall be subject to municipal approval and must be made available for periodic inspection by the towing inspector, or his designee, at all reasonable times.
Employees of an approved towing service shall in no way be deemed to represent or be employed by this borough and all such towing services shall be responsible for the conduct of their employees.
Anyone having any complaint about a towing service, including but not limited to excessive charges, damage to vehicles, etc., must reduce said complaint to writing and submit same to the governing body through the towing inspector not later than 10 days after the occurrence of the event complained of.
Upon receipt of such complaint, the towing inspector will investigate same and prepare a full report for the governing body forwarding a copy of said report to the towing service against whom the complaint was made.
The towing service shall have 10 days in which to respond to said complaint and may request a hearing before the governing body prior to action being taken.
After reviewing the Police Chief's report and any response submitted by the licensee, the governing body shall determine what action is appropriate under the circumstances but shall not revoke any approval without holding a hearing and affording both the complainant and the towing service an opportunity to be heard.
In addition to any requirements set forth elsewhere in this chapter, all approved towing services must provide in writing an employment nondiscrimination statement prior to the issuance of said approval and must agree to comply with all state and federal laws and regulations concerning wages, hours and terms of employment.
Owners of towed vehicle shall be notified by the local agency securing the towing service of the location of the vehicle, the storage fees assessed and the procedure for recovering said vehicle.
Vehicles suspected of being used in criminal activity shall be considered impounded by the police and shall be stored in a separate space for the exclusive use of the Police Department and shall not be released to anyone without the expressed permission of the towing inspector, or his designee.
All towing and storage fees shall be disclosed in an appropriate notice on the front or top page of all invoices and receipts. As an alternative, adequate public posting of such fees must be made at the storage area, in easy view of the public.
The Borough of Wrightstown shall not be liable for any of the services performed by the towing service unless those services are performed for borough vehicles, and the towing service must proceed directly against the owner and/or operator of the motor vehicle for any unpaid fees or other claims for such services.
Piling of vehicles or parking of same on public streets or sidewalks is expressly prohibited.
All approved towing services shall maintain records of all vehicles towed, stored and released, and of all services rendered, and said records must be maintained at a central station for not less than five years.
Fees for private passenger vehicles damaged in an accident or recovered after being stolen may not exceed the fees established by the department of insurance as set forth in Subchapter 38 of N.J.A.C., Sections 11:3-38.3 and 11:3-38.6, and the amendments and supplements thereto, which are hereby incorporated by reference.
Fees for other types of vehicles shall be as set forth in the towing service's schedule, subject to approval by the borough.
All fees to be paid by this borough for the storage of removed motor vehicles shall not exceed the limits set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.50, and any amendments or supplements thereto, which are hereby incorporated by reference.
A towing service operator engaged in the removal of motor vehicles, or any employee, officer or agent thereof, who engaged in a pattern or practice of knowingly violating the fee limits set forth in this chapter may be liable to the borough for a civil penalty of not less than $25 or more than $50 for each motor vehicle stored with the operator and shall be subject to immediate revocation of his towing service approval and shall forfeit the right to obtain such approval in this borough ever again, and may be subject to such additional penalties as may be prescribed in regulations and statute applicable to motor vehicle towing and storage activities.