Township of Union, PA
Washington County
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Union 9-14-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-4. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Property maintenance — See Ch. 194.
Zoning — See Ch. 280.
A. 
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
(1) 
A vehicle (other than a pedalcycle) shall be presumed to be abandoned under any of the following circumstances, but the presumption is rebuttable by a preponderance of the evidence:
(a) 
The vehicle is physically inoperable and is left unattended on a highway or other public property for more than 48 hours.
(b) 
The vehicle has remained illegally on a highway or other public property for a period of more than 48 hours.
(c) 
The vehicle is left unattended on or along a highway or other public property for more than 48 hours and does not bear all of the following:
[1] 
A valid registration plate.
[2] 
A current certificate of inspection.
[3] 
An ascertainable vehicle identification number.
(d) 
The vehicle has remained on private property without the consent of the owner or person in control of the property for more than 24 hours.
(e) 
The vehicle has remained on the private property of a salvor for 20 days.
(2) 
Vehicles and equipment used or to be used in construction or in the operation or maintenance of highways or public utility facilities which are left in a manner which does not interfere with the normal movement of traffic shall not be considered to be abandoned.
JUNK MOTOR VEHICLE
Includes any motor vehicle which is found unattended without the current year's registration, state inspection or identification markers as required by law and is inoperable/incapable of moving on its own. This shall also include any vehicles that constitute a danger or potential danger to the health, safety or welfare of the citizens of Union Township.
[Added 3-27-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-04]
LESSEE
"Owner" for the purpose of this chapter when the lessor holds the lessee responsible for maintenance and repairs.
MOTOR VEHICLE
Any type of mechanical device propelled by a motor in which persons or property may be transported upon public streets or highways, and including trailers or semitrailers pulled thereby.
NUISANCE
Any condition, structure or improvement which shall constitute a danger or potential danger to the health, safety or welfare of the citizens of Union Township.
OWNER
The actual owner, agent or custodian of the property on which motor vehicles are stored, whether individual or partnership, association or corporation.
PERSON
A natural person, firm, partnership, association, corporation or other legal entity.
B. 
In this chapter, the singular shall include the plural, the plural shall include the singular, and the masculine shall include the feminine and the neuter.
[Amended 3-27-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-04]
It shall be unlawful for any person, owner or lessee to maintain a junk motor vehicle nuisance or abandoned vehicle as defined herein upon any public lands and/or public rights-of-way or on the open private grounds of such person, owner or lessee within Union Township.
A. 
Any person, owner or lessee who has one or more motor vehicle nuisances, as defined in § 258-2 above, may store such vehicle(s) in Union Township only in strict compliance with the regulations provided herein. Such person, owner or lessee must first apply for a permit for either temporary or permanent storage and pay a fee to Union Township pursuant to a resolution of the Board of Supervisors. The motor vehicle nuisance(s) must be stored within a garage or other enclosed building or outside within an opaque fence at least six feet high which is locked at all times when unattended.
B. 
With the special approval of the Board of Supervisors, motor vehicle nuisances may also be stored outside in an area enclosed by a chain-link fence at least six feet high, screened by shrubbery around the perimeter to the height of the fence, with an unobstructed gate capable of admitting fire or emergency equipment. Such gate shall remain locked at all times when unattended. In addition, all gas and oil or other flammable liquid shall be removed from the motor vehicle, and it shall be kept free of vermin infestation while being stored. The total area of storage of motor vehicle nuisances may not exceed the area as set forth in the permit issued by the Township.
C. 
Nothing herein shall be construed to permit the storage of motor vehicle nuisances contrary to the provisions of Chapter 280, Zoning.
A. 
The Township Code Enforcement Officer and/or his designee are hereby empowered to inspect private property on which motor vehicles are stored to determine if there is compliance with the provisions of this chapter. If noncompliance with the provisions of this chapter constitutes a nuisance or if any condition, structure or improvement poses a threat to the health, safety or welfare of the public, he shall issue a written notice to be served by registered or certified mail upon the owner of said premises or, if the owner's whereabouts or identity be unknown, by posting the notice conspicuously upon the offending premises.
B. 
Said notice shall specify the condition or structure or improvement complained of and shall require the owner to commence to remove or otherwise rectify the condition or structure or improvement as set forth therein within 10 days of mailing or posting of said notice and, thereafter, to fully comply with the requirements of the notice within a reasonable time.
[Amended 3-27-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-04]
If the owner of grounds on which motor vehicles are stored does not comply with the notice to abate the nuisance within the time limit prescribed, Union Township shall have the authority to take measures to correct the conditions and collect the cost of such corrections plus 10% of all costs. Union Township, in such event and pursuant to its statutory or otherwise authorized police powers, shall have the right and power to enter upon the offending premises to accomplish the foregoing.
A. 
Removal of abandoned vehicle.
(1) 
All motor vehicles declared to be abandoned as defined herein (Also see Section 102 of the Motor Vehicle Code[1]) shall be removed by the owner thereof or by the owner or occupant of the private property on which any such vehicle is located. Upon the failure of the owner of any abandoned vehicle to remove the vehicle within five days after receiving written notice to do so from the Police Department, such notice being given either by personal service or by certified mail to the owner of such abandoned vehicle or to the owner or occupant of such private property, the Police Department may remove the same or cause the same to be removed.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 102.
(2) 
The police officer, within 24 hours after any vehicle has been removed and impounded, shall notify the owner of record of any such vehicle, either by personal service or by certified mail, and also the owner or occupant of the property from which any such vehicle has been removed, in like manner, of the fact that such vehicle has been impounded, the place from which it was removed, the reason for its removal and impounding and the place where the vehicle has been impounded.
(3) 
The Police Department is hereby authorized to immediately remove or direct the removal of any vehicle abandoned or presumed to be abandoned from any roadway, including the roadway's berm or shoulder, to the nearest point off the roadway where the vehicle will not interfere with or obstruct traffic.
B. 
Towing and storage regulations.
(1) 
In removing any abandoned vehicle, the Police Department shall cause the same to be towed away and stored by such towing services or garages approved as salvors under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code. [2]
[2]
Editor's Note: See 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 101 et seq.
(2) 
Any approved towing service or garage, prior to engaging in any towing away and/or storing of any vehicle hereunder, may be required to file a surety bond with the Township, such bond to indemnify the Township and the owner of any impounded vehicle against loss thereof or injury or damage thereto while any vehicle is in the custody of such garage.
(3) 
Specific towing and storage charges to be made under this chapter shall be fixed from time to time by the Board of Supervisors.
C. 
Recovery of vehicle; payment of charges.
(1) 
The owner of any impounded vehicle shall be entitled to recover possession of such vehicle upon the payment to the Township of the towing and storage charges.
(2) 
The payment of such charges, unless made under protest, shall be final and conclusive and shall constitute a waiver of any right to recover the money so paid. In the event that the towing and impounding charges are paid under protest, the owner shall be entitled to a hearing before a Magisterial District Judge or a court of record having jurisdiction, as in the case of a prosecution as in other cases of summary offenses under the Motor Vehicle Code of Pennsylvania, and the Magisterial District Judge or court of record shall proceed in accordance with Paragraph 1103 of the Motor Vehicle Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. See 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 101 et seq.
D. 
Vehicles of unknown ownership.
(1) 
In the event that the Police Department is unable to ascertain the ownership of an abandoned vehicle found upon private property, the Chief of Police or someone at his direction may notify the owner or occupant of the private property in writing, either by personal service or certified mail, to remove such vehicle to an authorized junkyard or scrap yard within seven days of receipt of the written notice. In lieu of the owner removing the abandoned vehicle, the property owner may authorize (in writing) the Police Department to remove the abandoned vehicle in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
E. 
Arrangement for towing with police.
(1) 
The owner of any abandoned vehicle or the owner or occupant of any private property on which any such vehicle is located may arrange with the Chief of Police to have such vehicle towed away to a garage as a pound for the storage of such vehicles or to an authorized junkyard or scrap yard upon prepayment of a charge satisfactory to the Township Manager.
F. 
Police report of abandonment.
(1) 
Where an abandoned vehicle is removed under the provisions of this chapter and it remains unclaimed for a period of 15 consecutive days without being removed by its owner or any other person duly authorized to remove the same, the Chief of Police shall be authorized to report or cause to be reported the abandonment of such vehicle to the Department of Revenue of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and all other applicable parties as provided for in the Motor Vehicle Code. See 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 101 et seq., specifically §§ 7304.1 and 7305.
G. 
Abatement of junk vehicle nuisances.
(1) 
In the event a junk vehicle is found to be a nuisance in violation of a state or Township Code by the District Justice and the owner has failed to remedy the problem or appeal the decision within the appropriate time limit, the Township shall have the right to repair, abate, or otherwise remove the junk vehicle nuisance violations occurring and ongoing on the property with the costs thereof being charged against the property owner. Failure of the owner to pay the costs may result in a lien being placed against the property.
H. 
Additional remedies.
(1) 
The Township, Police Department and/or its agents, assigns, etc., shall be entitled all other remedies provided for under the law, including the Union Township Code and Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code,[3] including reimbursement of costs and disposal of unclaimed vehicles through public sale, salvage, etc.
[3]
Editor's Note: See 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 101 et seq.
[Amended 3-27-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-04]
Violations deemed to be a junk vehicle nuisance under the Township Code that are not adequately remedied as determined by the Township Code Official and/or done so in a timely manner as detailed in the notice of violation shall result in a citation being filed with the local Magisterial District Court. Any aggrieved party shall have the right to appeal the Magistrate's decision to the Court of Common Pleas. This provision shall not apply for abandoned vehicles as defined herein.
Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any provision of this chapter, upon conviction thereof in an action brought before a Magisterial District Judge in the manner provided for the enforcement of summary offenses under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000 plus costs and, in default of payment of said fine and costs, to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 90 days. Each day that a violation of this chapter continues or each section of this chapter which shall be found to have been violated shall constitute a separate offense.
The remedies provided herein for the enforcement of this chapter or any remedy provided by law shall not be deemed mutually exclusive; rather they may be employed simultaneously or consecutively at the option of the Board of Supervisors.