§ 251-4Notice of violation.
§ 251-5Request for hearing.
§ 251-6Hearing procedure.
§ 251-7Abatement of violation by Town.
§ 251-8Disposition of vehicles removed
§ 251-9Redemption of impounded motor
§ 251-10Liability of owner or occupant.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide for the removal of abandoned or inoperable, motor vehicles within the Town of Haddam.
For the purpose of the chapter, the following terms, phrases, words, and their derivatives shall have the meanings given herein:
- ABANDONED MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any vehicle parked, stored or left for a period of time greater than 24 consecutive hours on any public or private property within the Town without the consent of the owner, occupant or public agency in control of such property.
- APPEALS BOARD
- The Haddam Board of Selectmen.
- INOPERABLE CONDITION
- A motor vehicle is in an inoperable condition when such motor vehicle is incapable of performing the function for which it was designed by virtue of having parts missing, or essential components broken or severely damaged.
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any vehicle which is self-propelled and designed to travel along the ground, including but not limited to automobiles, buses, trucks, campers, towable camping trailers, motor homes and the quantity of parts equivalent in bulk to constitute a motor vehicle.
- OPERABLE VEHICLE
- A motor vehicle is in operable condition when such motor vehicle is capable of performing the function for which it was designed by virtue of having no missing or essential components broken or severely damaged. The vehicle shall have fully inflated tires, with no broken or missing windows.
- Individuals and legal persons such as partnerships, associations, corporations, limited-liability companies, societies, legal representatives and trustees.
- PRIVATE PROPERTY
- Any real property within the Town which is privately owned and which is not public property as defined in this section.
- PUBLIC PROPERTY
- Any street or highway within the Town, including the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained for the purpose of vehicular travel, and any other publicly owned property or facility within the Town.
- RESPONSIBLE PARTY
- The person in whose name the motor vehicle is registered, or in the case of an unregistered motor vehicle, the owner or occupant of the land whereon such motor vehicle is located.
- The Town of Haddam.
- VEHICLE ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE (VEC)
- The Vehicle Enforcement Committee consists of the Vehicle Enforcement Officer and two regular volunteers and one alternate volunteer who live in the Town who are appointed by the Board of Selectmen.
- VEHICLE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER (VEO)
- The Zoning Enforcement Officer of the Town of Haddam.
No person shall park, store, leave, or permit the parking, storing or leaving of any inoperable motor vehicle on any public or private property within the Town.
The following exceptions shall apply:
Any motor vehicle totally enclosed within a temporary or permanent structure on private property.
The maximum of two inoperable motor vehicles or the parts equivalent.
Any motor vehicle not visible from a street or adjacent property.
Any motor vehicle fenced from view from a street or adjacent property.
Any motor vehicle covered with a fitted vehicle cover.
Any motor vehicle in an operable condition.
Abandoned vehicles. The presence of an abandoned motor vehicle on private or public property within the Town is hereby declared a violation that may be abated as such in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
Whenever the VEO receives a written, signed complaint of a possible violation of § 251-3 of this chapter; the VEO shall investigate, notify the responsible party of the possible violation and attempt to get voluntary compliance or a compliance plan. If the VEO cannot get voluntary compliance or a compliance plan, he shall report to the VEC. If the majority of the VEC agrees there is a violation, the VEO shall serve notice and request its abatement in the time specified in this § 251-4.
Service and notice requirements.
The notice of violation shall be served:
By registered or certified mail sent to the owner of any private property on which the vehicle is located, to any known occupant of the private property other than the owner, and to the owner of the motor vehicle if known. This method of service shall be deemed complete on the date of mailing; and
By publishing a copy of the notice in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in the Town.
The notice of violation shall advise that upon failure to abate the violation, the VEO may undertake removal of the motor vehicle(s) in question, with the cost of removal to be assessed jointly and severally against the owner of the private property, its occupant and any known owner of the motor vehicle.
The responsible party has the burden of proof showing whether a motor vehicle is operable, or not, when requested to do so by the VEO.
Any person to whom a notice of violation as described in § 251-4 is directed, or the person's duly authorized agent, may file a written request for a hearing on the notice of violation with the appeals board within 15 days from the date of notice.
The hearing provided for in § 251-5 shall be held as soon as practicable after the filing of the request for a hearing. All persons to whom the notice of violation was directed shall be advised by registered or certified mail of the time and place of the hearing at least seven days in advance of the hearing. At any such hearing the VEO and persons to whom the notice of violation was directed may introduce such witnesses and documents as any party deems necessary, subject to the right of the appeals board to exclude irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious evidence.
The burden of proof should be on the Town to demonstrate the violation by a preponderance of the evidence.
The appeals board shall decide after the hearing whether (1) the motor vehicle(s) in question on the date of notice of violation constituted a violation requiring an abatement under this chapter and (2) if so, whether the violation has been abated. The appeals board's decision shall be mailed by certified or registered mail to each person to whom the VEO had sent the notice of violation. The notice of the appeals board's decision will advise its recipient that any person aggrieved by the decision of the appeals board may, within 15 days of the day the decision was mailed, appeal the decision to the Superior Court for the judicial district in which the Town is located and must serve a copy of said appeal on the appeals board.
If the violation described in the notice of violation has not been abated by the latest of the compliance period given in the notice of violation, if no appeal is taken to the appeals board, or 15 days from the date the appeals board mails its decision, if request for a hearing is timely filed with the appeals board and the appeals board decides that a violation exists and must be abated, or 15 days from final judicial decision confirming the decision of the appeals board, if the decision of the appeals board is appealed to the Superior Court, then the VEO shall have the right to take possession of the abandoned or inoperable motor vehicle and remove it from the property on which it is located. It shall be unlawful for any person to interfere with, hinder or refuse to allow the VEO or his designee to enter upon private property for the sole purpose of removing a motor vehicle under the provisions of this § 251-7.
Within 48 hours of the removal of such motor vehicle(s), the VEO shall give written notice by registered or certified mail to the owner of the vehicle, if known, and also to the owner and any known occupant of any private property from which the motor vehicle was removed, that such motor vehicle has been impounded and stored for violation of this chapter. This notice of removal shall give the location where the vehicle is stored and the costs incurred by the Town for removal and shall state that the Town may sell the vehicle at a private sale if its value is $500 or less and it is stored for more than 30 days, or at a public sale if its value is over $500 and it is stored more than 30 days.
After removing any motor vehicle(s) under this chapter, the VEO shall, within 10 days from removal, have the vehicle appraised.
Private sale. If the vehicle is appraised at $500 or less, the VEO shall execute an affidavit so attesting and describing the vehicle, including the registration plates, if any, and stating the location and appraised value of the vehicle. The First Selectman, after complying with the above, may, after 30 days, summarily dispose of the vehicle(s) and execute a certificate of sale for any unredeemed motor vehicle.
Public sale. If the vehicle is appraised at over $500 and has been stored for more than 30 days, the VEO may sell the vehicle at a public sale. The VEO shall advertise the public sale in a newspaper published or having circulation in the Town two times commencing at least five days before the sale. The VEO shall also send notice of the public sale by registered or certified mail to the last known owner of the vehicle, not less than five days before the date of sale.
The notice of sale shall state:
The vehicle shall be sold to the highest bidder. At the time of the payment of the purchase price, the First Selectman shall execute a certificate of sale in duplicate, the original of which is to be given to the purchaser, and a copy thereof to be filed with the Treasurer of the Town. Any money in excess of the Town's expenses shall be returned to the responsible party.
The owner of any vehicle seized under the provision of this chapter may redeem such vehicle any time after its removal but prior to the sale or destruction thereof. To redeem the vehicle the owner shall present proof of ownership to the VEO and shall reimburse the Town all expenses incurred in the removal, storage and miscellaneous expenses for the vehicle being redeemed.
Upon sending of a notice of violation in accordance with § 251-4 and subject to the appeal right given in this chapter, the owner of any abandoned or inoperable motor vehicle, the owner of the property on which such motor vehicle is located, and any person or occupant other than the owner occupying such private property, shall be jointly and severally responsible for the abatement of the violation and, in the event the VEO abates the violation by removing and impounding the motor vehicle, jointly and severally liable to the Town for the expenses the Town incurs.
The VEO is authorized to institute civil proceedings if necessary to collect any amounts any person may owe to the Town because of a violation of this chapter.