Questions about eCode360? Municipal users Join us daily between 12pm and 1pm EDT to get answers and other tips!
Borough of Somerdale, NJ
Camden County
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Somerdale 9-13-1989 by Ord. No. 89:08; amended in its entirety 11-22-2010 by Ord. No. 2010:09. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Fees — See Ch. 131.
Junkyards — See Ch. 159.
Taxicabs — See Ch. 236.
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 247.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Borough of Somerdale Towing Ordinance."
The purpose of this chapter is to protect the public health, safety, morals and welfare by establishing procedures, requirements and fees for towing operators for towing, road services and storage at the request of the Police Department of the Borough of Somerdale and providing fines and penalties for violation thereof.
A. 
Word usage.
(1) 
When not consistent with the context, words used in the present tense shall include the future tense; words in the plural number shall include words, in the singular number; and words in the singular number shall include the plural number.
(2) 
The word "shall" is always mandatory and not merely directory.
B. 
As used in this chapter and unless otherwise indicated by the context, the words or terms herein shall have the meanings indicated:
BOROUGH
The Borough of Somerdale, County of Camden, State of New Jersey.
LICENSED TOWER
One or more towing operators approved by the Police Chief, to provide towing, road service and storage at the request or call of authorized personnel of the Police Department in cases of emergency or an accident involving motor vehicles or for abandoned or illegally parked vehicles.
PERSON
Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind.
Towers shall be selected pursuant to completed applications, such applications to be received by December 1 of each year and to be approved by the Chief of Police by January 31 of each year, pursuant to the following procedures:
A. 
A tower interested in being licensed by the Borough shall submit a sworn application on the form provided by the Police Department. In order to reduce file space and a reduction of paper, the applicant shall be responsible to ensure that the application and all supporting documents are scanned and converted to a PDF format. Such application shall be submitted via e-mail to the Chief of Police. The application shall not be deemed submitted unless a reply e-mail has been received by the applicant that the Chief of Police has received the application. Incomplete applications or applications missing required documents or information will not be considered. A certificate of insurance covering the operations to be performed under this chapter, proof that any towed and stored vehicle shall be kept in a secure compound or lot and all other similar documents or items that are required by this chapter to show compliance with the provisions of this chapter or that may be required by the Police Chief to assure the necessary capacity and ability to perform the services needed by such an operator shall be provided.
B. 
Approval as a licensed tower shall expire on January 31 of the following year. Renewal is permissible upon the complete submission of current documents as required and set forth by this chapter.
C. 
The status as a licensed tower shall not be transferable. Upon the sale or transfer of a towing business, approval as an authorized tower of the Borough of Somerdale shall be null and void.
D. 
In the event that the Police Chief determines that a qualified tower is no longer in compliance with this chapter, the Chief shall give such qualified tower written notice of the deficiency and an opportunity to cure the deficiency under such terms established by the Chief. If the deficiency is not cured, the Chief shall send the qualified tower written notice that the qualification has been revoked. Selection by the Chief of Police as an approved or licensed tower under this chapter shall be made in accordance with the ability and capacity of the applicant to conform to or otherwise meet the provisions of this chapter, based upon, but not limited to, the application and supporting documents submitted therewith. Any such selection by the Chief of Police shall be solely at the discretion of Chief of Police, after a fair review of the submitted documents, and with due consideration for past performance, including compliance with the Borough Code and other applicable laws or regulations, such as Chapter 197, Property Maintenance. Selection by the Chief of Police as an approved or licensed tower under this chapter shall be made after completion of all background checks by the Somerdale Police Department and after the review of all documents in support of the application by the Borough Solicitor, with the written approval thereof. The Police Chief shall be the municipal officer designated to enforce the provisions of this chapter in accordance with due process of law.
E. 
Upon approval by the Chief of Police, a tower shall be placed on a list to be utilized by the Somerdale Police Department on a rotating basis, with a switch of towers every month, if there is more than one approved tower.
F. 
Subcontracting of the police towing shall not be permitted in any way, shape or form, and any violation of this provision will result in immediate removal from the approved towers' list.
G. 
In the event the Borough is left without an authorized tower, the Chief of Police is authorized to assign such work to any tower which has been found qualified to perform such functions by a neighboring municipality. In the event that this is a permanent situation, the Chief shall pursue an application process as above. In the event this is a temporary situation, the replacement tower may remain in place until the end of the calendar year.
[Added 10-29-2019 by Ord. No. 2019:08]
Any tower aggrieved by the revocation of qualification by the Police Chief shall be entitled to a hearing before the Mayor and Council, which could sustain the Chief's actions, reverse them, modify them, and/or add conditions. Any aggrieved tower desiring such a hearing shall file with the Borough Clerk a written statement requesting same and setting out the factual basis for the appeal, and paying a fee of $300, all or a portion of which may be refunded by Mayor and Council in the event of a reversal or modification of the Chief's decision.
An approved tower of the Borough of Somerdale, in order to be selected as a licensed tower, shall comply with the following minimum standards:
A. 
Payment of the annual approved towing fee shall be made, as established by the Fee Ordinance of the Borough of Somerdale[1] and § 240-5F. Also, all other municipal obligations, including taxes and licensing fees, shall be current and paid in full.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 131, Fees.
B. 
A completed and accurate application (form to be provided by the Police Department), stating under oath the following information, shall be provided to the Borough of Somerdale:
(1) 
The owner's name, social security number, telephone number, home address, date of birth, two forms of government ID, recent credit report and proposed or actual business address of the owner applicant.
(2) 
A description of all wreckers owned or leased by the applicant to be used, including year, make, model, type, serial number of body and motor capacity and the length of time for which the wrecker has been in use as a wrecker.
(3) 
Proof that the applicant has available space, including inside storage, for properly accommodating and protecting all disabled or impounded motor vehicles to be towed or otherwise removed from the place where they are disabled or impounded and that the disabled or impounded vehicles will not be stored or allowed to remain on public property or Borough-owned streets or on any property without the consent of the owner. The following information shall be provided in proof of this requirement:
(a) 
Information regarding the capacity of the storage facility.
(b) 
Height and construction of security fence.
(c) 
Lighting provided for security in storage area.
(d) 
Proof of ownership or lease of storage.
(e) 
Location of storage area and/or facilities.
(f) 
Proof of legal use and zoning of storage area.
(g) 
Hours of operation of storage facility, with hours of access and release of vehicles for the public.
(h) 
Copy of the proposed storage area's most recent survey.
(4) 
The names, social security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, telephone numbers and two forms of government identification, and a recent credit report, of all personnel to be engaged by the applicant in the towing operation or employees having access to stored vehicles. At any time that the applicant hires new personnel during the course of the approved year, the applicant shall file an amended application providing this information within two weeks after such hire.
(5) 
The owner applicant shall provide the Borough of Somerdale a certified New Jersey motor vehicle abstract of all proposed operators of tow equipment.
(6) 
The Chief of Police or his designee shall have full access to all areas of the approved storage facility for inspection, and any employee on the facility grounds must produce identification upon request.
(7) 
Copies of all legal documents, duly filed or recorded, evidencing the nature, trade name and/or legality of the applicant.
(8) 
Proof of ownership or lease of all wreckers or tow trucks to be utilized in the towing operation pursuant to this chapter.
(9) 
Such other information which the Police Chief shall deem necessary or proper to effectuate the purpose of this chapter and to determine whether there has been compliance with the terms thereof.
C. 
A satisfactory background check, performed by the Somerdale Police Department, shall be made. An applicant owner and all employees shall cooperate fully with the Police Department and shall provide whatever documents or information that may be requested pursuant to said background check. Applicants must submit to required fingerprinting by the State Police-approved vendor and supply notarized release authorizations. No tower shall be approved who has been convicted of a crime or who employs as part of his towing or storage operation someone who has been convicted of a crime unless specifically waived by the Mayor and Council for cause. Fingerprint results not received prior to the approval deadline for approved towers will result in denial of placement on the approved towers' list.
D. 
All approved towing operations shall be able to respond to an emergency call from the Somerdale Police Department within 10 minutes and shall therefore be located within such a proximity to the Borough as to be so available for such emergencies.
E. 
Registration with the Department of Community Affairs.
F. 
Towing schedule of fees.
Type
Fee
Towing application
$50
Towing charges
Tow fee (whether regular tow truck or flatbed)
$80
Storage fees (per day)
Indoor storage
$22
Outdoor storage
$22
Storage fees (maximum to be charged to Borough per N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.50)
1st 30 days
$3
31st day and any thereafter
$2
Limit per vehicle stored without wavier
$400
Sunday impound pickup
$20
It shall be an unlawful practice and a violation of N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq. for any person to charge rates which are discriminatory or are not usual, customary and reasonable rates for the towing and storage of motor vehicles. The Mayor and Council reserve the right to amend the Schedule of Fees by resolution
G. 
Ability to respond to a service call within the Borough within 10 minutes.
H. 
A properly licensed and zoned storage yard open for business, at a minimum, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Saturdays, excluding legal holidays, which has at least two interior storage spaces.
I. 
Agreement to follow directions of police officers concerning the removal and storage of vehicles as well as the cleanup of the scene, including an agreement that any vehicle designated as impounded may not be released without the proper required police release form.
J. 
The operator must own and maintain enough equipment and possess adequate resources to remove two vehicles from the roadway for whatever reason deemed necessary by the Police Department.
K. 
The operator must reveal all other contracted towing that is current with other municipalities and must have a minimum of two eligible tow vehicles and two eligible employees for each contracted municipality.
An approved tower shall comply with the following rules and regulations:
A. 
The owner shall be notified by the Police Department for the removal of all vehicles, whether considered abandoned, disabled or impounded. The tower must arrive prepared to remove all vehicles within 10 minutes of notification, unless otherwise specified by the Police Department. If the tower fails to respond within the allotted time, the Borough may, within its discretion, notify another vendor to effect immediate removal and towing of vehicles.
B. 
In the event that the owner of a vehicle also arrives at the scene to which tower has been summoned, with approval of the Police Department, the owner shall be allowed to remove the vehicle at no expense to himself or the Borough.
C. 
In the event the tower is required to perform additional unspecified services in furtherance of its obligations hereunder, such services shall be provided at reasonable cost. Such services shall not affect the basic towing and storage charges outlined in the Borough's Schedule of Fees.
D. 
In the event that a vehicle has been wrongfully removed pursuant to this chapter, the vehicle shall be returned to the owner at no charge. On occasion, the tower will be required to tow certain wrongfully vehicles back to the initial towing site.
E. 
The tower shall tow municipal vehicles for no charge and change flat tires on any vehicle assigned to the Police Department, free of charge, at any time. Spare tires must be retrieved from the Borough's tire storage facility which will be located within the Borough.
F. 
Cleanup of all accident debris at the scene of an accident emanating from said accident shall be done promptly in accordance with N.J.S.A. 39:4-56.8.
G. 
Charges for services shall be made in accordance with the established fees and charges set by the Borough of Somerdale in the Fee Ordinance[1] and § 240-5F. Such fees and charges shall be posted on the premises of the towing operation, which rates are to be clearly visible to the customers. A copy of said fees and charges is to be provided to the public upon request. In addition, a copy of the Fee Schedule shall be available to the public during the normal business hours of the Borough.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 131, Fees.
H. 
All towers shall comply with the insurance provisions as set forth in § 240-7 of this chapter.
I. 
All wreckers shall be in a thoroughly safe and sanitary condition, properly licensed and equipped in compliance with Title 39 of the Statutes of the State of New Jersey and shall, in addition, comply with the following minimum standards:
(1) 
A wrecker shall be able to handle all makes of passenger cars and small trucks, such as pickup and small panel trucks up to 1 1/2 tons.
(2) 
All wreckers shall be a minimum of 3/4 ton according to the manufacturer's specifications.
(3) 
A wrecker shall have a power-takeoff-controlled winch with a minimum cable thickness of 3/8 inch or equivalent.
(4) 
Each wrecker shall have a gross weight equal to the vehicles to be towed, with a minimum of 5,500 pounds.
(5) 
Each wrecker shall have a three-eighths-inch safety chain. The lift chain and the safety chain are not to be attached in any form or manner to the same part of the wrecker.
(6) 
Each wrecker shall have front and rear flashing hazard lights.
(7) 
Each wrecker shall have a three-hundred-sixty-degree rotating amber beacon light mounted over the cab or approved light bar with a permit issued by the state of New Jersey.
(8) 
All lights shall be of such candlepower in intensity as to be visible 1/4 mile away.
(9) 
All companies will have the company name, address and phone number permanently affixed (in letters and numbers a minimum of three inches high) on both sides of each wrecker. Magnetic signs are strictly prohibited. There shall be no marking on the trucks indicating affiliation with Police Department such as "official police towing."
(10) 
Each wrecker shall be equipped with a portable car dolly and sufficient equipment to clean up the debris on the roadway.
(11) 
Tow trucks used by the operator must be of such construction to tow any type of vehicle and to pass inspection by the Police Department, New Jersey Motor Vehicle Inspection Station or it's designee.
(12) 
The Police Chief may order any previously approved tow vehicles to be inspected by New Jersey Motor Vehicles if he has reason to believe that the tow vehicle is in violation of the predetermined inspection standards set forth by New Jersey Motor Vehicles even if such vehicle currently displays a valid inspection sticker. The ordered tow vehicle shall be taken out of service until proof of reinspection has been satisfied.
J. 
All drivers shall carry business cards, which shall be given to the owner/driver of every vehicle to be towed.
K. 
Every driver of a wrecker shall give the owner/driver of the vehicle a written receipt for the fee paid.
L. 
All drivers must present a valid New Jersey driver's license upon request by law enforcement so that the driver can be cross-checked with the approved towers' list.
M. 
No person shall pay any gratuity, tip or emolument to any third person not involved in the accident or to any police officer for any information as to the location of any accident or for soliciting the employment of the operator's services nor give any gratuities, fees or other compensation or gifts to any members of the Police Department.
N. 
The owner or operator shall maintain a ledger of all towing or wrecking jobs handled, the name of the owner or operator of the towed vehicle, if known, the charges made for the service, and the date and amount of payment, for review by the Police Chief at his request.
O. 
The towing operator is responsible at all times for the security of the storage facility and shall provide safe storage for any towed vehicle.
(1) 
The towing operator is responsible to be open to the public on weekdays during normal business hours and limited hours (at least three hours) on Saturdays.
(2) 
No release fees can be charged for releasing vehicles after normal business hours. No fees can be charged in excess of the established fees as set by the Borough of Somerdale in the Fee Ordinance.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 131, Fees.
(3) 
The towing operator is responsible for the removal of all vehicles needing to be towed from the public rights-of-way within the Borough of Somerdale, including those vehicles that may exceed the capacity of the wrecker as set forth in § 240-6D(1) above, even if a special, outside towing operator needs to be involved.
(4) 
The Borough shall not be responsible for any unclaimed fees or costs that the approved tower has incurred for any police ordered impounds.
(5) 
On occasion, a tower will be required to tow certain vehicles, which are involved in criminal investigation or other investigation, to a designated facility for further investigation, at no charge to the Borough.
(6) 
The tower shall be responsible for each vehicle in its storage area, including but not limited to damage or theft, until final disposition or removal is ordered by the Borough, All vehicles, regardless of condition, must be stored singly and so arranged to permit inspection and subsequent removal if necessary. Adequate walkway inspection space must be provided at all times.
(7) 
The owner of any vehicle towed shall have the right to remove property belonging to him from the stored vehicle at no cost to the owner unless a "police hold" is marked on the tow form. The vehicle owner shall have the right to take photos of the stored vehicle for insurance purposes at no cost to the vehicle owner. Any property removal disputes will be referred to the Police Department. Access to the facility/yard must be given to the owner with the consent of police.
P. 
Agreement to follow the regulations established by the Chief of Police, which regulations may be amended and/or modified by the Chief.
A. 
No towing operation shall be approved hereunder unless there shall be provided to the Police Chief the following insurance policies or certificates of insurance:
(1) 
Auto garagekeeper's policy. An auto garagekeeper's legal liability policy covering fire, theft and explosion in the minimum amount of $100,000 and collision coverage subject to a deductible of $500, with each accident deemed a separate claim.
(2) 
Garage liability policy. A garage liability policy covering the operation of the applicant's equipment or vehicles for any bodily injury or property damage. This policy shall be in the minimum amount of $100,000/300,000.
(3) 
Automobile liability policy. An automobile liability policy covering general liability in the minimum amount of $1,000,000, single limit. Collision coverage for vehicles in tow shall be provided.
(4) 
Workers' compensation policy. A workers' compensation policy as required by New Jersey statutes.
B. 
Each policy required must contain an endorsement providing 30 days' notice to the Borough in the event of any material change or cancellation for any cause.
C. 
In the event that the policy is changed so as to fail to conform to the above requirements or if any policy or any approved towing operation is canceled for any reason, the Police Chief shall notify the person responsible for the policy within 10 days after the notice is received and before the date of cancellation. If the policy or certificate is not corrected, reinstated or replaced within the required time, the Police Chief shall immediately suspend the approved status of the tower.
D. 
The Borough of Somerdale must be named as an additional insured under the liability portion of the insurance coverage.
E. 
Indemnification and liability.
(1) 
The approved tower shall indemnify and hold harmless the Borough for liability from any and all obligations, liabilities, judgments, claims and demands for personal injuries, including wrongful death, as well as all claims for damages to property which may arise out of this agreement and the work performed hereunder, provided that the same results from the negligent actions or omissions of the approved tower.
(2) 
The approved tower further agrees to save and hold harmless the Borough and to defend at its own cost and expense any such claims or lawsuits instituted by third parties against the Borough, provided that the same results from the negligent actions or omissions of the approved tower.
Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the owner, agent or lessee of a vehicle which is disabled from calling a wrecker or tower of his choice to remove his vehicle, if it is able to be done without causing a public safety hazard and can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.
The Police Department shall have the power to require an approved tower to remove vehicles where:
A. 
There is obstruction of a public right-of-way or private property.
B. 
It is reasonable to believe that the vehicle is unsafe to operate.
C. 
A vehicle has been vandalized or presents a fire or safety hazard or an attractive nuisance.
D. 
An abandoned vehicle bears no discernible registration or identification data.
E. 
An abandoned vehicle is not licensed or operable.
F. 
A vehicle is violating any emergency no-parking provision.
G. 
Any other condition where permitted or required by law.
A. 
No vehicle shall be released to either owners or lienholders without a police release form. Vehicles shall be available for release between 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Saturday, except for legal holidays. It shall be the responsibility of the Police Department to notify the owners of vehicles not present during impound, when known, when vehicles are turned over to the tower for removal and storage.
B. 
Upon release of a vehicle to its owner or lienholder, all ownership rights and responsibilities shall revert to the owner or lienholder. The Borough shall not be liable for daily storage fees for any day following the date of release, whether or not the owner actually reclaims possession of the motor vehicle from the tower. The tower shall not impose any additional charges upon an owner or lienholder which are not expressly indicated in the Borough's Schedule of Fees. All vehicles shall be released by the tower upon receipt of a police release form.
C. 
The tower shall notify the Police Department of any released vehicle which remains unclaimed by the owner by way of a monthly written report.
A. 
The tower shall maintain records of all vehicles towed, stored, and released by him, as well as all services rendered while performing services under this chapter.
A. 
The tower shall be required to maintain a yearly tow log documenting all vehicles that were towed at the request of the Police Department. A copy of this log will be submitted to the Police Department at the end of the calendar year. The tower is required to maintain a copy of said tow log for a period of seven years. The tower shall update the tow log on a daily basis, and it shall be made available to the Chief of Police, or his designee, immediately upon request.
B. 
Towed vehicle log. This report shall include the following information on every vehicle towed by the tower at the request of the Police Department and covered under the terms of this chapter:
(1) 
The date the vehicle was towed by the contractor.
(2) 
The name of the tow truck operator.
(3) 
The vehicle identification number.
(4) 
The license plate number.
(5) 
The state the vehicle is registered in.
(6) 
The make of the vehicle.
(7) 
The model of the vehicle.
(8) 
The color of the vehicle.
(9) 
The release date of the vehicle.
(10) 
The date the vehicle was moved to Borough-owned/leased storage.
(11) 
The final disposition of the vehicle.
C. 
The Police Department will provide a tow log form to the tower to be used by the tower to document towed vehicles.
Whenever an owner of a motor vehicle that was towed by an approved tower pursuant to the power vested in the Police Department by § 240-9 above has a complaint regarding the towing, storage or other services provided (or not provided by the Police Department), the Chief of Police is hereby empowered to mediate and otherwise resolve any such dispute between the motor vehicle owner and the approved tower, utilizing the services of the Borough Solicitor as needed. In the event that any such dispute is not readily resolved between the approved tower and the motor vehicle owner, then the owner may petition the Mayor and Council for a hearing to review the dispute. Any decision of Mayor and Council shall be deemed final.
A. 
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter may be removed from the approved towing list and, in addition, upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 but of at least the minimum amount of $100 and/or imprisonment for a term not to exceed 90 days and/or a period of community service not to exceed 90 days for each offense. Each violation shall constitute a separate offense and shall be charged as a separate offense.
B. 
Notwithstanding the above, any person, including any approved tower, or any employee, officer or agent thereof, who engages in a pattern or practice of knowingly violating the fee limits set in § 240-11 above shall be liable for a civil penalty of not less than $25 or more than $50 for each motor vehicle stored with the operator.