[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Cheektowaga 5-19-1986 by L.L. No. 2-1986; amended in its entirety 5-5-2003 by L.L. No. 2-2003. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable]
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 235
It is the purpose and intent of this chapter to establish an orderly system for the safe and expeditious removal of disabled motor vehicles from the streets of the Town of Cheektowaga, to supervise and control the operation of towing businesses that are granted permission to tow for the Town of Cheektowaga Police Department and to remove and dispose of vehicles abandoned on streets located in the Town of Cheektowaga.
The provisions of this chapter shall not prohibit the driver or owner of a vehicle which needs towing service from contracting with any towing company of his own choice, provided that:
Services provided by an authorized Town tower not specifically covered by this chapter shall not be regulated by the Town of Cheektowaga and will be based solely on the contract which exists between the towing company and the driver/owner of the vehicle.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ABANDONED VEHICLE
- A vehicle as defined in § 1224 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York.
- Any incident or occurrence in which one or more motor vehicles come in contact with each other or any other object, thereby causing damage to or disabling a motor vehicle.
- AUTHORIZED DRIVER
- A person who possesses a valid New York State driver's license for the appropriate class of equipment being operated, who has been approved by the Chief of Police and who is in actual physical control of an authorized tow truck upon the highways of Erie County and is in compliance with all New York State vehicle and traffic laws.
- AUTHORIZED INVOICE
- An invoice approved by the Chief of Police of the Town of Cheektowaga which contains:
- AUTHORIZED TOWN TOWER
- A towing company which has been approved by the Town of Cheektowaga Chief of Police and Cheektowaga Town Board to tow vehicles on behalf of the Cheektowaga Police Department.
- AUTHORIZED TOW TRUCK
- A specially equipped vehicle designed for the towing or pushing
of disabled vehicles and which is in compliance with New York State
Vehicle and Traffic Law.[Amended 3-5-2007 by L.L. No. 3-2007]
- A. Must have a minimum manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 10,000 pounds.
- B. Must have a commercially built wrecker body with hydraulically extendable boom with a minimum rating of four tons and wheel lift rating of two tons.
- C. Equipped as set forth in § 241-9 of this chapter.
- D. Registered as a tow truck vehicle with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.
- CHIEF OF POLICE
- The Chief of Police of the Town of Cheektowaga or any other member of the Cheektowaga Police Department designated by the Chief of Police of the Town of Cheektowaga to perform duties under this chapter.
- LETTER OF AUTHORIZATION
- A document signed by the Chief of Police authorizing a towing company to provide service for the Town of Cheektowaga Police Department and which:
- POLICE DEPARTMENT
- The Town of Cheektowaga Police Department.
- The carrying, lifting or moving of a single motor vehicle by another motor vehicle.
- The Town of Cheektowaga.
- TOWN BOARD
- The Town Board of the Town of Cheektowaga.
Editor's Note: The former definition of “heavy tow truck” which immediately followed this definition, was repealed 3-5-2007 by L.L. No. 3-2007.
The Police Department may direct the removal of vehicles in the following circumstances:
When any vehicle is parked or abandoned on any highway within the Town during a snowstorm, flood, fire or other public emergency which affects that portion of the public highway upon which said vehicle is parked or abandoned.
When any vehicle is found unattended on any highway within the Town where said vehicle constitutes an obstruction to traffic.
When any vehicle is parked or abandoned on any highway within the Town where stopping, standing or parking is prohibited.
When any vehicle is disabled and rendered inoperable as a result of any collision or accident upon a public highway or right-of-way.
When any vehicle is parked on private property without the consent of the owner of such property.
When the driver of such vehicle has been arrested and taken into custody and the vehicle must be removed from the public highway or from private property other than the driver's or when the vehicle must be removed to ensure the safety of the vehicle and its contents.
Authorized Town towers may be requested by the Town of Cheektowaga to provide vehicles, manpower and equipment to perform emergency automotive services to be paid for on an hourly basis by the Town of Cheektowaga. The vehicles, manpower and equipment are to be used for the purpose of restoring vehicles to the pavement that have left the pavement due to poor traction or are otherwise blocking the roadways due to conditions caused by adverse weather or other emergency conditions. This rental system will be put in effect by the Town of Cheektowaga, at its discretion, during emergencies.
Rental rates. Rental rates shall hereafter be established from time to time by Town Board resolution.
[Amended 3-5-2007 by L.L. No. 3-2007; 4-18-2016 by L.L. No. 3-2016]
The Town of Cheektowaga specifically reserves the right to set the hours that such a rental will be in effect, as well as the number of trucks and employees to be utilized. In addition, it is understood that such trucks shall be provided with all equipment necessary to provide adequate service to the public in restoring vehicles that have left the roadway, back to the pavement.
No towing company shall be allowed to tow vehicles on behalf of the Police Department unless and until it has been approved by the Chief of Police and Town Board as an authorized Town tower in accordance with this chapter.
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized to:
Receive and review any and all applications filed with the Town by towing companies for permission to be designated as authorized Town towers.
Recommend to the Town Board which towing companies should be designated as authorized Town towers.
Determine the number of authorized Town towers which should be designated by the Town Board.
Determine the policy and procedure for all items pertaining to the towing of vehicles on behalf of the Police Department which are not addressed in other sections of this chapter.
An application for letter of authorization shall be made upon forms made available by the Chief of Police. Such application shall include the following information:
The name, address and telephone number of the business.
The name of the owner of the business, his address and telephone number.
The name, address and telephone number of the contact person at the business.
The location and size of the storage area.
The hours the storage area is supervised.
The height and type of construction of fence surrounding the storage area.
A description of the trucks and the owners' names (including year, make, model, vehicle identification number and New York State registration number).
The number of trucks available for towing.
The number, names, addresses and dates of birth of drivers available for tow trucks.
The flatbeds available.
The dollies available.
A certificate of insurance for liability/property/personal injury damage showing thereon limits of insurance, as prescribed by the Town Board.
Visa Card and Mastercard contracts (copies).
A resume of business/towing experience and training.
Permission for the Cheektowaga Police Department to conduct a fingerprint criminal history record investigation of the owner(s) and driver(s). Each owner and driver will sign waivers. Such fingerprints will be forwarded to the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) along with the appropriate processing fee. All processing fees are to be paid by the applicant, and the only authorized method of payment will be a United States Postal or American Express money order made out to the Division of Criminal Justice Services. Authorization will not be granted to an owner or driver convicted of any felony, any offense relating to the theft or dismantling of motor vehicles, insurance fraud or sex offenses or any series of convictions for traffic offenses that would indicate a pattern of disregard for vehicle safety.
Permission shall be granted by the applicant for an on-site inspection of the applicant's premises by the Chief of Police.
Term of letter of authorization.
If a towing company is designated as an authorized Town tower, such firm will be issued a letter of authorization, which will expire one year from the date of issuance. Reassurance of such letter of authorization will be based on the past performance of said towing company and on continued compliance with all the provisions of this chapter.
The letter of authorization represents an agreement to provide towing service to the Police Department for one year. The Chief of Police may renew this letter annually without requiring a new application, or he may decline to renew the letter of authorization at his discretion.
Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a towing company from reapplying for designation as an authorized Town tower.
Prior to approval or issuance of a letter of authorization, an authorized Town tower shall remit an annual license fee of $2,500 to the Town.
[Amended 4-18-2016 by L.L. No. 3-2016]
The letter of authorization shall not be transferable.
Otherwise, the annual license fee shall be due upon issuance or reassurance of the letter of authorization.
A towing company must meet the following minimum requirements before it will be considered as an authorized Town tower:
The applicant's tow truck(s) must be equipped and licensed in accordance with § 241-9 of this chapter.
All of the requirements of § 241-6 of this chapter must be successfully met, an approved application must be received and all information and data contained therein must be verified by the Chief of Police.
The proper and necessary insurance certificates as specified in the letter of authorization must be obtained and submitted to the Chief of Police prior to operation and must be in force and current at all times.
The applicant must own or lease a facility that complies with the provision of § 241-10 of this chapter.
The facility and property must be at a location that is zoned properly for such type of business and must comply with all laws of the Town, County of Erie and State of New York. The applicant must have received a certificate of zoning compliance from the Town Building and Plumbing Inspector.
The facility and property must be maintained in good repair and must be conducted in a manner that is not offensive to the community.
An authorized Town tower must also meet the following requirements:
The Town tower must provide rapid service (must respond within 30 minutes) except under adverse weather and traffic conditions.
There must be a building or other acceptable office facility on the storage site.
The office shall be staffed, at the minimum, at the following times: Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon; closed Sundays and legal holidays. The telephone number(s) for twenty-four-hour retrieval must be posted in a conspicuous place on the storage site.
The Town tower must maintain at least two tow trucks, as specified in § 241-10 of this chapter. The Chief of Police may authorize exceptions for cause.
Vehicles shall be subject to periodic inspection by the Chief of Police.
The Town tower must make provision in its fees for winching time and any extra trucks or employees required.
The Town tower shall be allowed to take vehicles only to the designated area, unless authorized emergency storage is ordered by the Chief of Police.
Only the assigned authorized Town tower must tow the towed vehicle. No surrogates are allowed.
Town towers and their drivers will comply with all vehicle and traffic local laws and Town ordinances.
Towers removing a wrecked or damaged vehicle from a highway shall remove any glass or other substance dropped upon the highway from such vehicle [see New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1219, Subdivision (c)].
An authorized Town tower shall, as a condition to being designated as an authorized Town tower, agree to accept and abide by all of the terms of this chapter.
[Amended 3-5-2007 by L.L. No. 3-2007]
Authorized tow trucks and flatbed tow trucks shall have the following minimum equipment on board at all times:
Emergency amber lights, as defined in § 375, Subdivision 41(3), of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York.
A carbon dioxide or dry powder fire extinguisher with a minimum capacity of 10 pounds.
One dozen red railroad-type flares (thirty-minute duration).
A safety chain.
A set of dolly wheels.
Scotch block(s) and snatch block(s).
A trailer for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles (a flatbed would satisfy this requirement).
Trucks must be clearly marked with the name, address and telephone number of the towing company in three-inch letters on both doors of the truck.
Work lights directed to the rear of the vehicle to illuminate the area behind the tow truck.
Authorized Town towers will equip a truck or their employees, at their expense, with a designated cellular telephone or other radio equipment, as specified by the Chief of Police.
[Amended 4-18-2016 by L.L. No. 3-2016]
Any vehicle removed by an authorized Town tower shall be stored in a lot enclosed by a chain link or stockade fence at least six feet in height. This fence must be maintained in good repair with no breaks or open areas. Vehicles may be stored in an enclosed building in lieu of a fenced lot.
Exterior lighting of the vehicle storage area shall be required and shall be directed towards the vehicle storage area in a manner that is sufficient to light the entire area to allow all of the vehicles to be clearly seen during the hours of darkness. The lighting must not reflect or glare into adjoining residences or businesses. Lighting must be operational during the hours of darkness and must be kept in good working condition.
The minimum storage capacity on the actual site of the business must be no less than 15 vehicles. The authorized Town tower must have alternate temporary storage available to him for an additional 25 vehicles; such temporary storage must be approved by the Chief of Police and must be in a fenced and secure area.
Any actual or suspected tampering with towed vehicles or any theft must be reported to the Chief of Police within 24 hours of the incident.
Towers must notify the Police Department of any vehicle they have in their possession for 72 hours without having been contacted by the owner/representative of the owner thereof. Towers will contact the Police Department during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, at the earliest possible time following the advent of the 72 hours.
Every tower shall provide a written list of all vehicles that have been in his possession in excess of seven calendar days. This list will be delivered to the Chief of Police on Monday mornings no later than 11:00 a.m. each week.
The Police Department/Town will assume ownership of all abandoned vehicles pursuant to § 1224 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York.
Upon obtaining ownership of abandoned vehicles, said vehicles will be disposed of in accordance with § 1224 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York. The tower may be directed to deliver such abandoned vehicles to a designated site. The tower will then be paid for such towing by Town voucher. No storage charges will be paid by the Town for abandoned vehicles.
The maximum fees to be paid by the Town for any abandoned vehicle impounded and disposed of by the Town shall be $50.
In no case will the amount paid to the tower exceed the salvage fee or any other payment the Town has received.
The Chief of Police will establish procedures and shall disseminate standardized forms to be used for releasing all impounded vehicles.
Any vehicle towed pursuant to this chapter or otherwise caused to be towed by the Town which shall become an abandoned vehicle may be converted to Town use pursuant to § 1224, Subdivision 6, of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York.
The Chief of Police is hereby empowered to establish tow zones within 60 days from the effective date of this chapter. The Town will thereafter be divided into two major sections, north and south, and eventually in smaller sections to ensure the best towing coverage, response time and convenience for drivers claiming their vehicles. Once these zones are established, only that tower assigned to that zone will be allowed to tow vehicles within that zone.
During any highway emergency, such as snowstorms, floods, etc., the Chief of Police may suspend the boundary lines of these zones for the purpose of more efficient vehicle removal. The Chief of Police may not suspend these boundary lines for more than 10 consecutive days without authorization from the Town Board.
[Amended 3-5-2007 by L.L. No. 3-2007; 11-3-2008 by L.L. No. 10-2008; 4-18-2016 by L.L. No. 3-2016]
Authorized Town towers shall not charge more than the fees established by the Town Board by resolution from time to time.
Storage area and tow trucks. Upon receipt of a properly completed application, the Chief of Police shall direct the application to be reviewed and an on-site inspection of the storage area and tow truck(s) to be conducted by the Police Department to determine if the requirements as set forth in this chapter are met. Within a reasonable time after completion of the review and inspection, the Chief of Police shall either recommend approval or denial of the application to the Town Board.
Periodic inspections. The Chief of Police will make quarterly on-site inspections of each tower's operating base and storage area. During this inspection, all required records, forms, tow trucks, storage areas, lighting, security, tow truck equipment, etc., is subject to inspection. The result of this inspection will be made part of the towing company's permanent file.
Compliance. Towers will have 15 days to bring any deficiency noted during an inspection into compliance with the provisions of this chapter. Failure to do so will be grounds for cancellation of the license of authorization.
[Amended 4-18-2016 by L.L. No. 3-2016]
An authorized Town tower shall provide copies of its receipts to the Police Department on a weekly basis. This will be accomplished by providing the Police Department with copies of these receipts no later than the end of business on Saturday of each week. These receipts shall reflect all towing work done for the Police Department during the previous week.
The Police Department shall conduct a monthly audit of receipts received by all authorized Town towers.
An authorized Town tower may be removed from service by the Chief of Police via the process of rescinding the letter of authorization prior to the annual expiration date for violating the provisions of the letter of authorization, this chapter or for making materially false statements on the application for a letter of authorization.
In the event that the Chief of Police refuses to renew or revokes or suspends a letter of authorization, the authorized Town tower shall have the right to appeal such refusal, revocation or suspension to the Town Board, in accordance with the following provisions:
Whenever it shall be provided herein that a hearing shall be held, such hearing shall be held on a date and at a place and hour designated by the Town Board.
The Town Clerk of the Town of Cheektowaga shall give notice of any hearing to be held hereunder, stating the name and business address of the authorized Town tower concerned, the subject matter of the hearing and the date, place and hour designated therefor, by mailing to the business address shown upon the most recent application of such tower at least 10 days prior to the date of such hearing.
At any hearing held for the refusal, revocation, suspension or removal of a tower from a list, such tower shall be entitled to be represented by legal counsel and to present testimony or other evidence in his own behalf, as may be relevant to the subject matter of the hearing.