[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Blairstown 10-10-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-05. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 177, Towing, adopted 6-14-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-05, as amended.
The purpose of this chapter is to regulate the removal of motor vehicles from private or public property by operators engaged in such practice and the fees charged for said removal and/or storage following removal in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:48-2.49 et seq.
The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
- Any automobile which is parked without the current year's registration, license plates and current inspection, as required by law, for a period of more than 48 hours or is positioned so as to constitute an obstruction to traffic.
- BASE OF SERVICE
- The location where the licensed towing operator stations its tow vehicle(s) when not in use.
- BASIC TOWING SERVICE
- The removal and transportation of an automobile at the request of authorized Police Department personnel required because said automobile has been abandoned, disabled, damaged in accidents, illegally parked, recovered after being stolen or in cases of emergency, 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, but does not include recovery of an automobile from a position beyond the right-of-way or berm, or from being impaled upon any object within the right-of-way or berm.
- CAR CARRIER
- A car carrier shall have a commercially manufactured chassis certified by the manufacturer. The vehicle shall be equipped with a hydraulically powered winch. The tilt bed or slide back shall be hydraulically operated. The vehicle shall also be equipped with tie-down chains, proper safety lights and amber rotation emergency flashing lights.
- A light-duty wrecker shall have a commercially manufactured chassis certified by the manufacturer for light-duty towing. Each shall be equipped with a commercially manufactured lifting apparatus with dual rear wheels, safety chains, proper safety lights, rear floodlights and amber rotation emergency flashing lights.
- MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
- An occurrence in which a private passenger automobile comes in contact with any other object for which the private passenger automobile must be towed or removed for placement in a storage facility. This includes situations that are accidental to one person even if caused by the intentional acts of another.
- NONBASIC TOWING SERVICES
- All towing services which are not basic towing services or private passenger automobiles, as defined herein.
- POLICE DIRECTOR
- Refers to the Police Director or, in the absence of a Director, the police officer in charge of the Township Police Department or his/her designee.
- STORAGE SERVICES
- The maximum allowable amount of storage charges to be charged per twenty-four-hour period or a fraction thereof. Each new twenty-four-hour period begins at 12:01 a.m.
- TOWING OPERATOR
- A licensed individual or entity placed upon the rotating list that performs towing services for the Township.
- TOW VEHICLES
- Only those vehicles equipped with a boom or booms, winches, clings, tilt beds, wheel lifts, or under-reach equipment specifically designed by its manufacturer for the removal or transport of private passenger automobiles.
- Any motor vehicle, including but not limited to passenger cars, pickup trucks, livery vehicles, camper-type vehicles, delivery sedans or panel trucks, registered, or capable of registration, by the State of New Jersey or other governmental entity that has jurisdiction, for use on public roads or streets, having a gross weight of 6,000 pounds or less.
This chapter hereby establishes a list of licensed towing operators to provide basic and nonbasic towing services for the Township of Blairstown on a rotating basis. The Police Department will maintain the rotating list and determine the time period for each rotation. The list of licensed towing operators shall be determined by and under the direct supervision of the Director or designee.
A licensed towing operator shall be placed on the rotating list in the order in which its application was approved. No towing operator may be listed more than once, and no licensed towing operator shall be permitted to lease its tow vehicles to another licensed towing operator in order to receive multiple listings. Licensed towing operators will have vehicles, storage property, and operators fully insured.
Towing services must be provided on a twenty-four-hour, seven-day-per-week basis. It is required that a tow vehicle be on the site of the event within 15 minutes of the time of the call from the Police Department. If a licensed towing operator is called and for any reason does not perform the requested towing service, the next licensed towing operator on the list will be called to perform the towing service. Towing services are to be located within a five-mile radius of Blairstown Township.
If no licensed towing operator on the rotating list is able to perform towing services when necessary, the Township is entitled, in emergent circumstances, to have said service performed by a licensed towing operator not on the rotating list.
During adverse weather conditions or other emergency conditions, all towing operators on the rotating list shall give priority to requests for towing services made by the Township over requests made by third parties.
Every official tower shall maintain a secured storage area meeting the following requirements:
The storage area shall be capable of storing a minimum of 10 vehicles and one tractor and trailer. The area shall have at least 800 square feet of storage facilities to hold and protect police hold vehicles.
The location of the storage area shall be either within the limits of the Township or 15 minutes' driving time of the Township boundary.
The storage area, if outdoors, shall be fully enclosed by a sturdy fence having a minimum height of six feet, and at least one lockable gate for ingress and egress and shall be lighted from dusk to dawn.
The storage facility shall be available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year and shall be open to the public on weekdays during normal business hours and for four hours on Saturdays. The applicant shall specify the hours on which the facility will be open on Saturdays. The applicant is not required to be open on Sundays.
The licensed towing operator shall have an employee on duty, or available to accept telephone calls, during all hours in which the storage facility is open.
The licensed towing operator shall not charge a release fee or other charge for releasing vehicles to their owners after normal business hours or on weekends.
The official tower shall be responsible for ensuring the proper and safe storage of all vehicles towed pursuant to this chapter. The official tower shall be liable for any damage incurred by such vehicles while in transit to or while stored in the storage areas.
Only licensed towing operators shall be placed on the rotating list.
Towing operator licenses will issue upon application to the Township Committee on an approved application form, endorsed by the Police Director and satisfactory evidence that the applicant has the expertise, experience, equipment and facilities to perform the required services.
The Police Department personnel, prior to endorsing an application for a towing operator license, shall conduct a background check of the applicant and any officers or employees thereof. Any persistent violations and/or high incidence of motor vehicle accidents in the past 10 years may warrant a driver ineligible. A conviction for a felony will be considered ample reason to disqualify any contractor unless waived by the Township upon application and for good cause.
A licensed operator shall not permit a tow vehicle to be operated by any agent, servant, employee or representative until such time as the police personnel have conducted a background check as herein provided.
A license may be denied, suspended, or revoked upon any of the following grounds:
Submitting a fraudulent or misleading application.
A criminal conviction of the towing operator or a named principal of the towing operator.
Failure to respond reliably and promptly to calls for assistance or any other unsatisfactory performance action which interferes with the proper operation of the rotating system maintained by the Police Department.
Failure to utilize safe and adequate equipment as defined herein.
Violations of motor vehicle laws and/or municipal ordinances.
Failure or refusal to tow or remove a motor vehicle when requested to do so by an appropriate municipal official.
Violations of Chapter 19, Land Development, or any other applicable ordinances or codes of the Township of Blairstown pertaining to the use or condition of the premises used by the licensee in conducting the towing business.
Violations of the provisions of this chapter or any of its rules, regulations and policies promulgated hereto.
Licenses shall be renewed annually from January 1 to December 31 of the succeeding year.
All applications shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable fee of $200. Thereafter, the renewal fee shall be $50.
When an application for a license is denied by the Township of Blairstown, the applicant may request a hearing on said application by the service of a notice requesting a hearing. Said notice shall be served on the Municipal Clerk, and at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the governing body, a hearing date shall be set which shall be no less than seven days nor more than 45 days from the date scheduled.
Proceedings for the suspension or revocation of a license shall be initiated by the service of a notice of charges proffered against the licensee. Said notice shall be served by the Police Director or his/her designee, either personally or via certified mail, return receipt requested, and shall contain a date, time and place for a hearing to be held by the governing body of the Township of Blairstown. Said hearing shall be scheduled no less than seven days nor more than 45 days after the notice of the proposed suspension or revocation shall be served upon the licensee. The licensee shall have the right to file an answer to the notice and to appear in person, or be represented by counsel, and give testimony at the place and time fixed for the hearing.
The Police Department in general and the officer in charge in particular shall enforce the provisions of this chapter as well as rules and regulations adopted hereunder.
A copy of this chapter and the fee schedules of individual towers shall be made available to the public during normal business hours at the Blairstown Township Municipal Building.
The contractor must provide with his application a detailed list of the equipment to be utilized while on the towing list. The listing shall include the following information: type of vehicle, storage location of vehicles and whether the vehicle is owned or leased. All leased and rented equipment must be permanently located at the contractor's base of service at all times during the term of the contract. Each piece of the equipment must meet the minimum standards established by this chapter. Equipment that cannot meet these minimum standards shall not be used for the towing list. The contractor is solely responsible for the safety, maintenance and operation of each piece of equipment utilized. The licensed towing operator shall provide a minimum of one light-duty wrecker and one car-carrier vehicle.
The Police Department shall keep a register of the names of all licensed towing operators, together with the license number, the description of such tow vehicles and the date and complete record of inspections made of them by the Police Department. This register shall be maintained by the contractor.
The licensed towing operator shall supply manufacturer's certification of the lifting capacities of the devices of type of vehicles with application submission. A certified testing laboratory test result is also acceptable for rating lift capacity.
Tow vehicles shall be equipped with two-way radios for communications with the contractor's office facilities. These communications shall be available 24 hours a day.
Tow vehicles shall be equipped at all times with safety vests for operators, first aid kits, hand tools, lockout kits, flashlight, broom, shovel, work gloves and receipts for services rendered.
Tow vehicles shall be kept clean and neat so as to be reasonably accommodating to persons who may come in contact with such vehicles.
All tow vehicles shall be properly permitted by the State of New Jersey for the use of flashing amber emergency lights. Permits shall be in compliance with Motor Vehicle and Traffic Laws as referenced above.
All tow vehicles shall be registered in the name of the contractor in compliance with Motor Vehicle and Traffic Laws as referenced above, and must be fully insured for both collision and liability.
The contractor shall record all vehicles towed in a book kept for such purposes with the details of each disabled vehicle towed, together with full information of the towed vehicle and name and address of the owner and the charges paid for his services. Full information of the towed vehicle shall include, but not be limited to, the vehicle's license number, VIN registration number, make, model, color and year. The record book herein described shall be kept open for inspection at all times by any duly authorized representative of the Township.
The contractor shall maintain a record of all personal property in a towed vehicle that he/she can observe in sight at the time the vehicle comes into possession.
Authorized representatives of the Township shall have access to any of the records required to be kept by the licensed towing operator.
There shall be a consecutive, sequential control number assigned by the Police Department to be used in every instance by the Township and the licensed towing operators. All forms, communications, etc., shall use this control number.
The Police Director or designee is hereby authorized and empowered to establish from time to time written policies and procedures as may be reasonable and necessary to obtain compliance with the terms of this chapter and the laws of the State of New Jersey. All written policy/policies promulgated by the Police Director or designee shall be approved by resolution of the Township Committee.
[Amended 9-11-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-20]
The fees set forth in the schedule below for towing and storage rates are the maximum permitted charges that shall apply to the towing and/or storage of passenger automobiles. Towing operators transporting multiple passenger vehicles at one time shall receive the applicable fees for each passenger vehicle transported.
The following towing and storage fees shall apply for passenger vehicles and other vehicles as indicated.
In the event that the towing operator has been summoned by the Township for the purpose of towing an abandoned vehicle and has arrived on the scene; and if the owner or the operator appears on the scene before the vehicle is hooked to a tow truck, then the towing operator will collect a road service fee of $50. It is the responsibility of the towing operator to secure the billing information and collect the road service fee.
[Amended 6-24-2020 by Ord. No. 2020-05]
Vehicles that are towed under this chapter and that subsequently become the target of a police investigation (criminal, fatal accident, etc.), and become the responsibility of the Township to pay the tow charge shall be charged at the current rate for towing of Township-owned vehicles.
Storage fees shall commence once the towed vehicle has been brought to the storage facility and 24 hours have elapsed. Storage charges continue for every calendar day following. The fees set forth for storage are the maximum storage charges per twenty-four-hour period and same shall apply to a vehicle that is stored as a result of accidents, abandonments, repairs, or suspected criminal activity.
Road repair services. The towing operator shall be permitted to charge an additional fee based on the towing operator's prevailing hourly labor rates and charges for parts or materials for any road repair services provided in addition to those defined herein. It shall be the responsibility of the tow operator to first inform the owner/operator of the vehicle of the hourly labor rates and the estimated total cost for parts and/or materials, and receive written consent from the owner/operator, prior to the performance of such additional road repair services.
Wherever applicable, it shall be the responsibility of the towing operator to first inform the owner or operator of the estimated total cost prior to the performance of any towing service.
Release of impounded vehicles. No impounded vehicle is to be released without proper authorization from the Blairstown Township Police Department. Vehicle release must be available during normal business hours.
The above towing charges shall not apply when the operator of the vehicle elects either a specific tower or to be towed to a destination other than the licensed storage facility. In such cases, the towing charges shall be mutually agreed upon between the operator of the vehicle and the licensed towing operator. In the event an operator requests his/her own tow, it will be determined by the duty officer if another towing service will create a danger to life or property, at which time the duty tow will remove the vehicle.
This towing and storage fee schedule shall be subject to change on an annual basis commencing January 1 of each year, or upon review and determination of necessity. The towing and storage fee schedule shall be maintained by each licensed tow truck operator for the Township, the Township Director of Police and the Municipal Clerk.
This chapter is not intended to regulate or set fees for nonbasic towing services or the towing or storage of trucks and buses in excess of 4,000 pounds gross weight. Such service, if requested, shall be billed at reasonable prevailing rates. The licensed towing operator shall be billed at reasonable prevailing rates. The licensed towing operator shall submit a list of fees in advance for nonbasic towing to the Police Director, who shall have the sole discretion in determining reasonable prevailing rates, if the charge is not addressed in this chapter.
Towing operators shall be required to purchase, maintain and provide during the time of service on the rotating list proof of insurance furnished by a reputable insurance company licensed to do business in the State of New Jersey, containing the following coverage with liability limits as set forth below:
Garage liability/comprehensive general liability insurance policy in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limit covering bodily injury and property damage liability, including but not limited to personal injury; products liability (where applicable), independent contractor and complete operation coverage.
Garage keeper's legal liability insurance policy in an amount not less than $100,000. Said policy must include both comprehensive and collision, and an endorsement to include "on hook."
Automobile liability insurance policy in an amount not less than $1,000,000 combined single limit covering bodily injury and property damage liability, including, but not limited to, owned, nonowned and hired vehicles.
Workers' compensation insurance as required by law, including, but not limited to, statutory New Jersey workers' compensation benefits, and employers' liability of at least $100,000.
Excess/umbrella liability. In the event that garage liability and/or automobile liability cannot be purchased up to the required limit of $1,000,000, an excess liability or umbrella liability policy must be purchased to effect a total liability limit of $1,000,000. Excess or umbrella liability policies will not be required for garage and automobile policies that meet or exceed the minimum limit of $1,000,000.
The garage liability and automobile liability policies shall name the Township of Blairstown as additional insured and certificate holder and provide that said policy cannot be canceled for nonpayment or other reason absent fourteen-day written notice to the Township.
The contractor will execute an agreement to hold harmless, indemnify and defend, at the contractor's expense, the Township, its employees and officials from any and all claims, demands, suit or action for personal injury or property damage brought against the Township, its employees and officials for any activities which arise out of any services performed under this chapter.