[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County 4-15-2003 by Ord. No. 03-08. Amendments noted where applicable.]
STATE LAW REFERENCES
Counties; powers; ordinances — See NMSA 1978, § 4-37-1 et seq.
Enforcing county ordinances; jurisdiction — See NMSA 1978, § 4-37-3.
Nuisances and offenses; regulation or prohibition — See NMSA 1978, § 3-18-17.
Motor vehicle definitions — See NMSA 1978, § 66-1-4.8C.
Abatement of a public nuisance — See NMSA 1978, 30-8-8.
Notification forms; copies; resale of salvaged vehicle or motor vehicle — See NMSA 1978, § 66-3-115.
Disposal of abandoned vehicle or motor vehicle — See NMSA 1978, § 66-3-121.
Licensing of dealers and wreckers — See NMSA 1978, § 66-4-1 et seq.
Storage provisions for historical or special interest vehicles — See NMSA 1978, § 66-11-3.
This chapter shall be known and cited as the "Otero County Junked Vehicle Ordinance."
This chapter applies to all residents, businesses, visitors and transients within Otero County, New Mexico, and does not exclude any individual, group, organization, agency, business, visitor, transient or other person not residing within the County who may be in violation of this chapter within the County.
The Board of County Commissioners has determined, pursuant to NMSA 1978, § 4-37-1 et seq., and § 3-18-17A, that in the interest of public health, safety and welfare, the possession, location and disposal of junked vehicles within Otero County should be regulated by this chapter.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words, and their derivation shall have the meanings given herein. When not inconsistent with the context, words used in the present tense include the future, words in the plural number include the singular number, and words in the singular number include the plural number. The word "shall" is always mandatory and not merely directory.
- ABANDONED VEHICLE
- A vehicle or motor vehicle that has been determined by a New Mexico law enforcement agency:
- An individual, association, corporation, partnership or other legal entity which buys or otherwise acquires, maintains, shows, restores, sells, dismantles, or otherwise disposes of antique or special interest vehicles for the purpose of maintaining one or more antique and/or special interest vehicles for reasons of historical interest, provided that such collector has registered as such with the Otero County Administrator's office.
- HISTORICAL OR SPECIAL INTEREST VEHICLE
- A vehicle of any age that, because of its significance, is being collected, preserved, restored or maintained by a collector as a leisure pursuit.
- JUNKED VEHICLE
- Any motor vehicle, other than an historical or special interest vehicle, as defined in NMSA 1978, § 66-1-4.8C, which:
- A. Is dilapidated or has been abandoned;
- B. Is inoperative;
- C. Has been continuously inoperative for a least 120 days or has been wrecked, dismantled, or partially dismantled;
- D. Does not bear a valid, unexpired license plate; and/or
- E. Does not meet minimum safety standards for operation on the public streets and highways of the State of New Mexico.
- The individual, association, corporation, partnership, or other legal entity legally in possession of the premises where a junked vehicle is located.
- The Otero County Sheriff who is designated by this chapter to enforce its provisions. The Sheriff may designate an agent and/or Deputy Sheriff or Sheriffs for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this chapter who shall have all of the authority of the Sheriff under this chapter.
Pursuant to NMSA 1978, § 4-37-1 et seq., and § 3-18-17A, the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County finds and declares that junked vehicles which are located within the County on any private or public lot, tract, parcel of land, or portion thereof, occupied or unoccupied, improved or unimproved, and which are visible from any public place, including, but not limited to, public rights-of-way, parks, public buildings and their grounds, and private business or commercial property open to the public in the normal course of business, are detrimental to the safety and welfare of the general public. Such junked vehicles reduce the value of private property, invite vandalism, constitute fire hazards, and are attractive nuisances, posing a threat to the health and safety of children. Junked vehicles are detrimental to the economic welfare of the County by producing urban blight which is adverse to the continuing economic development of the County.
In view of these findings and determinations, the Otero County Board of County Commissioners hereby declares the above-described junked vehicles to be public nuisances and further declares that it shall be unlawful to store, keep or maintain any junked vehicle in Otero County.
Upon receiving a report of the existence of a junked vehicle, the Sheriff may serve a citation to the owner or occupant of the premises upon which the junked vehicle rests. The citation shall be on the form approved for use in traffic violations within the County. The citation shall command the occupant to appear in Magistrate Court to plead to the charge of violation of this chapter. Any party who makes a complaint in Magistrate Court must appear in that court to testify regarding the complaint he has filed. Failure to appear is grounds for dismissal of the complaint. The Magistrate shall have, in addition to sentencing authority for petty misdemeanors in the State of New Mexico, the authority to require:
If, within 20 days of the appearance in Court, the owner or occupant removes, or causes to be removed, the junked vehicle(s), the Sheriff shall dismiss any criminal and/or civil complaint against the owner or occupant arising from the presence of the junked vehicle(s).
If, within 20 days of the appearance in Court, the owner or occupant gives his written permission for the County to remove the junked vehicle(s), the Sheriff shall remove the junked vehicle(s). The owner or occupant shall be liable to the County for the costs incurred by the County for the removal of the junked vehicle(s).
If, within 20 days of appearance in Court, the owner or occupant neither gives permission to the County to remove the junked vehicle(s) nor removes the junked vehicle(s) or causes them to be removed, the Sheriff shall cause the junked vehicle(s) to be removed from the premises at the expense of the occupant. Additionally, the County Attorney may:
File a criminal complaint in the Magistrate Court pursuant to this chapter. Upon conviction of the defendant, the Magistrate Judge may impose sentence as herein provided and may defer or suspend such sentence on the condition that the defendant removes the junked vehicle(s) and pays court costs and attorneys' fees incurred by the County, together with such fines and/or corrections fees, as are otherwise provided for by law; or
File suit in District Court seeking a court order allowing the County to remove the junked vehicle(s) and dispose of them as provided in this chapter and pursuant to NMSA 1978, § 30-8-8. The County Attorney may seek a judgment against the defendant for costs of removal, disposition, court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.
The party complaining to the Sheriff's office of the existence of a junked or abandoned vehicle may, if dissatisfied with the determination of the Sheriff, bring an action in the Magistrate Court of Otero County to enforce this chapter and thereby independently seek removal of the junked or abandoned vehicle. The complaining party must own property or reside at a location that is within one mile of the location about which the complaint is being filed. Such actions shall be at the sole cost and expense of the person filing such action.
Any party who files a complaint in Magistrate Court must appear in that court to testify regarding the complaint he has filed. Failure to appear is grounds for dismissal of the complaint.
The Sheriff shall dispose of junked vehicle(s) which come into his possession pursuant to this chapter and/or as otherwise provided by law. A licensed dismantler receiving any junked vehicle(s) shall notify the Motor Vehicle Division as required by NMSA 1978, § 66-3-115. In no event shall a junked vehicle be reconstructed or rendered operable following removal, except as provided by NMSA 1978, § 66-3-121.
This chapter shall be administered by the Sheriff of Otero County and/or regularly salaried, full-time deputies of the Otero County Sheriff, except that the removal of vehicles or parts thereof from the property may be made by any person duly licensed under NMSA 1978, § 66-4-1 et seq.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall affect or be construed to prohibit the immediate removal of a vehicle left without authorization on any public or private property or which constitutes a danger or obstruction to traffic.
The Sheriff or his agent may examine vehicles or parts thereof, in connection with their investigation, to obtain information as to the ownership or identity of vehicles or owners or occupants, and to remove or cause the removal of a vehicle or parts thereof declared to be a nuisance pursuant to this chapter.
This chapter shall not apply to the following vehicles:
A vehicle or part thereof which is completely enclosed within a building in a lawful manner where it is not visible from a street or other public or private property;
A vehicle or part thereof which is stored or parked in a lawful manner on private property in connection with the business of a licensed vehicle dealer, dismantler or junkyard;
An unlicensed, operable or inoperable historical or special interest vehicle stored by a collector on his property, provided that such vehicle and the outdoor storage area(s) are maintained in such a manner that they do not constitute a health hazard and are screened from ordinary public view by means of a solid fence, trees, shrubbery or other appropriate means. Such storage areas shall be kept free of weeds, trash and other objectionable items (NMSA 1978, § 66-11-3);
Any operable motor vehicle specifically adapted or constructed for racing or operation on privately owned drag strips or raceways; or
Any motor vehicle stored on the property of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who is on active duty assignment outside of the County.
Any person violating the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed to be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided for in NMSA 1978, § 4-37-3.