[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature 5-29-1990 by L.L. No. 19-1990 (Ch. 361 of the 1985 Code). Amendments noted where applicable. Uncodified sections of local laws amending these provisions are included at the end of this chapter.]
This Legislature hereby finds that the Suffolk County Department of Consumer Affairs receives approximately 400 to 500 complaints per year regarding the sale of contaminated motor fuels or overcharges by motor fuel facilities.
This Legislature further finds that changes in business ownership or business names of such stations occur almost continuously, with a turnover rate of as much as 25% to 35% per year.
This Legislature further finds that, when a complaint is made, consumers and inspectors for the Department of Consumer Affairs have no way of determining the ownership of such motor fuel facilities, except by the verbal statements given by facility employees.
The Legislature further finds that the Department of Consumer Affairs receives updated ownership information only during an inspection, which may be as much as two years prior to the complaint, and thus the Department is hampered in its ability to resolve complaints quickly.
This Legislature further finds that inspectors sometimes must rely upon ownership information given by employees, which information may not be accurate, and that sometimes ownership information may not be available.
The Legislature further finds that the Department of Consumer Affairs cannot establish sufficient disclosure or accountability by inspections alone or under a fee system on fuel pumps, as permitted by state law.
The Legislature further finds that the Department of Consumer Affairs has determined that the registration of motor fuel retailers is a less cumbersome method to establish accountability than charging a fee for each fuel pump in use at a motor fuel facility.
Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to enhance enforcement of the consumer protection statutes related to motor fuel facilities by requiring registration for each motor fuel facility.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Consumer Affairs.
- The Suffolk County Department of Consumer Affairs.
- The Suffolk County Director of Weights and Measures.
- MOTOR FUEL
- Liquid used as fuel for internal-combustion engines. This term shall specifically include, but is not necessarily limited to, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel and gasohol.
- MOTOR FUEL FACILITY
- That part of a business premises on which motor fuel pumps are located and where motor fuel is sold or offered for sale to the general public at retail for ultimate consumption.
- MOTOR FUEL RETAILER
- Any person who owns and operates or leases and operates a motor fuel facility.
- Any natural person, corporation, unincorporated association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint-stock association or other entity or business organization of any kind.
Registration requirement. No motor fuel retailer shall offer for sale or sell motor fuel at a motor fuel facility within the County of Suffolk unless such person has obtained a certificate of registration for such facility from the Department.
Posting requirement. The certificate of registration issued by the Department shall be posted by the motor fuel retailer at the facility for which the certificate has been issued. This certificate shall be available for inspection by authorized employees of the Department of Consumer Affairs during the course of all hours of operation.
Exemption. In the event that Suffolk County authorizes the imposition of fees pursuant to Subdivision 8 of § 181 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law for the inspection and testing of weights and measures, weighing and measuring devices and systems and related accessories on motor fuel pumps, then motor fuel retailers shall be exempt from the requirements of § 599-4B of this chapter.
[Amended 11-30-2001 by L.L. No. 22-2001]
The Commissioner is authorized and empowered to issue certificates of registration.
The fees for issuance of such certificates shall be as follows:
[Amended 4-24-2012 by L.L. No. 32-2012]
All initial registrations shall be issued for a period of two years from the date of issuance thereof at the discretion of the Department and shall expire on the last day of the 24th month of such issuance. Subsequent renewals shall be for a period of two years. Odd-numbered registrations shall be renewable in the odd calendar year. Even-numbered registrations shall be renewable in the next even year. Fees payable upon renewal shall be for two annual payments.
All certificates of registration shall be nontransferable and shall be issued only for the motor fuel facility listed on the registration application.
Within seven business days after a change of control in ownership or management of a motor fuel retailer registrant, that registrant shall notify the Department, in writing, of such change. The motor fuel retailer's registration or, if applicable, registrations shall be deemed revoked as of the date of such change.
The Commissioner is authorized to establish requirements for registration. The requirements shall include, but not be limited to, submission of a valid certificate of incorporation, certificate of doing business under an assumed name or other business papers indicating the ownership of the motor fuel retail facility and identity of the motor fuel retailer.
Any additional administrative fees imposed by the Department of Consumer Affairs must be approved via a duly enacted resolution of the Legislature prior to implementation.
[Added 4-24-2012 by L.L. No. 32-2012]
This chapter shall be enforced by the Suffolk County Department of Consumer Affairs.
Failure to act in accordance with the requirements of this chapter shall constitute a separate violation for each day that such failure to act occurs.
A violation of this chapter shall subject the violator to a fine of up to $2,000 or imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both, imposed in accordance with § 361-6 of this chapter.
[Added 12-20-2005 by L.L. No. 3-2006; amended 9-15-2011 by L.L. No. 49-2011]
Upon application of the Director, the County Attorney or the District Attorney may commence an action in the name of the County to restrain, prevent and enjoin a violation of this chapter or any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder or any continuance of such violation.
[Amended 12-20-2005 by L.L. No. 3-2006]
[Amended 4-19-1994 by L.L. No. 6-1994]
The Director shall have the power to impose a fine upon a registrant not to exceed $2,000 for a violation or to suspend or revoke a registration or registrations or to deny an application for the renewal of a registration or registrations for any one or more of the following causes:
[Amended 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 1-2003; 12-20-2005 by L.L. No. 3-2006]
Fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or bribery in securing a registration.
The making of any false statement in an application for a registration.
Violation of any provision of this chapter or any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder, provided such violation resulted from an action or conduct arising out of the activity for which the registrant is registered.
Violation of any section of Article 16 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder, provided such violation resulted from an action or conduct arising out of the activity for which the registrant is registered.
Willfully or knowingly having in the custody, possession or control of the motor fuel retailer any motor fuel on which:
The taxes imposed pursuant to Article 12-A of the New York Tax Law have not been assumed or paid by a motor fuel distributor registered as such under Chapter 494 of the Suffolk County Code; or
The taxes imposed pursuant to Article 12-A of the New York Tax Law have not been included in the cost to the motor fuel retailer of such fuel where such taxes were required by law to have been passed through to the motor fuel retailer and included in the cost to the motor fuel retailer of such fuel.
No registration shall be suspended or revoked and no civil fine shall be imposed until after a hearing has been held before the Director upon at least seven business days' notice to the registrant. Such notice shall be served either personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the registrant and shall state the date and place of the hearing as well as enumerate the grounds constituting the allegations against such registrant. The registrant may be represented by counsel and may produce witnesses in his own behalf. A record of the hearing shall be taken and preserved. For purposes of such hearing, the Director may administer oaths, take testimony, subpoena witnesses and compel the production of books, papers, records or other documents deemed pertinent to the subject of the hearing.
The Director of Weights and Measures shall have the authority to condemn any motor fuel dispensing devices or associated equipment in use at a motor fuel facility when:
Notice has been served by the Director or an agent of the Director either personally or by certified mail to a motor fuel retailer that a motor fuel facility operated by that retailer has been found to be offering for sale or selling motor fuels in Suffolk County without the certificate of registration for such facility required by this chapter.
Thirty calendar days have elapsed from the time of the serving of such notice.
The motor fuel retailer has not yet submitted an application for the required certificate of registration.
Upon the condemnation of any motor fuel dispensing devices or associated equipment, the devices may be locked or seized and ordered removed by the Director. In the case of a seizure, such devices or equipment may be disposed of only as directed by the Director or an authorized agent.
No person shall use or attempt to use any device or equipment to which there has been affixed or upon which there has been placed any condemnation tag or lock unless such tag or lock has been removed by a Weights and Measures official.
No person, except a Weights and Measures official, shall remove any such condemnation tag or lock or obliterate, cover, obstruct or deface the same or cause any of the foregoing.
In the case of a condemnation order issued by the Director as the result of a failure to register a motor fuel facility, the Director is authorized to restore to service all condemned dispensing devices upon the issuance of a certificate of registration to that motor fuel facility. This restoration shall take effect no later than 5:00 p.m. of the business day following the date of issuance of the certificate of registration.
The Commissioner is authorized to promulgate and issue such rules and regulations as he or she may deem necessary to implement the provisions of this chapter.