City of Lewes, DE
Sussex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Lewes 5-12-1980. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Junkyards — See Ch. 115.
Littering — See Ch. 121.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 148.
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 183.
Unlicensed vehicles — See Ch. 186.
The purpose of this chapter is to eliminate abandoned vehicles which tend to impede traffic in the streets or interfere with the enjoyment of and reduce the value of private property; to invite plundering; to create fire hazards and other safety and health hazards to children as well as to adults; to interfere with the comfort and well-being of the public; and to create, extend and aggravate urban blight.
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to store or deposit or cause to be stored or deposited or, as owner, occupant, lessee, agent, tenant or otherwise of any private or public property within the City of Lewes, or to permit the storage of:
A. 
Any vehicle that is inoperable, dismantled, wrecked or from which major components have been removed, is in such a state of disrepair as to be incapable of being operated in the manner for which it is designed and is situated on private property and appears to have been abandoned.
B. 
Any vehicle which is inoperable, dismantled, wrecked or from which the major components have been removed and which shall have been placed upon any public highway or property within the City of Lewes for a period in excess of 12 hours without being removed.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
C. 
Any vehicle on public or private property for a period in excess of 30 days, whether such vehicle is operable or not, which is not properly licensed, registered and equipped in accordance with the laws of the State of Delaware; provided, however, that if, in the opinion of the Police Department, such vehicle constitutes a danger to the public or an impediment to the normal flow of traffic, such vehicle may be moved immediately in accordance with the provisions of § 181-5.
D. 
Any vehicle on public or private property for a period in excess of 90 days, regardless of the condition of same, without moving and operating such vehicle; provided, however, that if, in the opinion of the Police Department, such vehicle constitutes a danger to the public or an impediment to the normal flow of traffic, such vehicle may be moved immediately in accordance with the provisions of § 181-5.
As used in this chapter the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
VEHICLE
Every vehicle operated or driven or capable of being driven or operated upon a public highway by any power other than muscular power, which includes electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires and includes vehicles operated upon rails and such vehicles as are run only upon rails or tracks. For the purposes of this chapter, "motor vehicles" shall include tractors used exclusively for agricultural purposes, self-propelled combines, self-propelled corn and hay-harvesting machines and self-propelled caterpillar or crawler-type equipment and shall also include motorcycles, omnibuses and house trailers.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to the following:
A. 
Those vehicles whose owners have properly parked and locked them and have notified the Police Department that the owner desires to leave the vehicle so parked and secured for a period not to exceed 30 days, except that if during such period the vehicle is no longer secured, or, in the opinion of the Police Department has become a danger to the public, then the vehicle shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
B. 
Vehicles and equipment used or to be used in the construction, operation or maintenance of public utility facilities and which are left in a manner which does not interfere with the normal movement of traffic.
C. 
Motor vehicles altered for drag or stock car racing, as long as said motor vehicles are maintained on registered trailers.
D. 
Vehicles being held for sale or resale in a commercial zone.
E. 
Vehicles which are classified as antiques under state laws.
F. 
Any vehicle within a completely enclosed garage or storage area.
A. 
Upon discovery of any vehicle as described in § 181-2B or any vehicle on public property as described in § 181-2C and D, the Police Department shall post a notice at some conspicuous place on the vehicle, which shall direct that such vehicle be removed by a stated time and date (such time and date to be not less than 12 hours following the posting of such notice). If the vehicle is not removed within the time period designated by such notice, the abandoned vehicle shall be removed to a storage area maintained by the City.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
B. 
Upon discovery of any vehicle as described in § 181-2A or any vehicle on private property as described in § 181-2C and D without the consent of the owner of such property, such vehicle may be removed by the Police Department as set forth in Subsection A of this section, except that there shall be no requirement for posting.
C. 
If a vehicle as described in § 181-2 is on private property with the consent of the owner or occupant thereof, or if such vehicle is owned by the owner or occupant of the private property where the vehicle is located, representatives of the Police Department may enter upon the property where such vehicle is located to ascertain its ownership. The Department shall notify the owner of the abandoned vehicle by certified mail sent to the owner's last known address to remove such vehicle within seven days from the date of the mailing. If the vehicle is not removed within seven days or if the owner cannot be located for the purpose of sending the written notice, then representatives of the Police Department may enter upon the property where the vehicle is located and conspicuously affix thereto a sticker or tag showing the time and date of its affixing, advising the owner that if the vehicle is not removed within 24 hours from the time of the affixing of the sticker, the vehicle shall be removed to a storage area maintained by the City.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
D. 
The notice required by Subsections A and C of this section shall state that if such vehicle is not so removed, it will be removed and stored at a storage area maintained by the Police Department at the owner's expense and thereafter will be subject to disposal in accordance with law. Such notice shall also set forth verbatim 21 Del. C. § 4414. If the vehicle shall not have been removed by the time and date specified in the notice, the Police Department or agents or employees of the Police Department shall take such vehicle into custody and shall cause it to be removed and stored for safekeeping in the storage area maintained by the City.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II)]
The Police Department, upon causing the removal of an abandoned vehicle, shall immediately ascertain the identity of any person or persons holding a lien against said vehicle. Within five days of the removal of the vehicle, the Police Department shall cause a written notice to be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle removed and lienholders stating that the vehicle has been removed pursuant to law, the place to which it has been removed and that the vehicle may be sold to satisfy the costs of removal and storage of the vehicle as provided in § 181-7, unless those costs have been paid in full on or before 30 days from the date of the removal of the vehicle. If the address of the owner of the vehicle cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence, then the notice provided by this section shall not be required to be given.
A. 
The Police Department shall cause to be published in the local newspaper the serial numbers of abandoned vehicles held by the Department in storage, and, in the case of a vehicle found on public property, the owner thereof shall have 30 days within which to claim the vehicle and pay all costs for its removal, storage and advertising, and the owner of vehicles found on private property shall have 15 days within which to claim the vehicle and pay all costs for its removal, storage and advertising. If the costs are not paid within the time limits specified in this subsection, then the vehicle may be, after the expiration of the respective time limits, sold at public sale by the authority having possession of the vehicle. Notice of the sale shall be posted at three public places in the City and be given by mail to the owner of the vehicle and to any lienholder of record at his last known address as indicated in the records of the State Department of Public Safety or otherwise. Such notice shall describe the vehicle to be sold and name the day, hour and place of the sale. The proceeds of the sale shall be applied first to the costs of the sale, then to the costs of removal and storage of the vehicle and then to the payment of any liens to which said vehicle, or any part thereof, may be subject in order of their priority, any excess to be disposed of as provided in Subsection B of this section.
B. 
Any excess in the amount of the selling price of said motor vehicle at said sale remaining after the payment of the charges provided in Subsection A of this section shall be accounted for and remitted to the City Treasurer, who shall create a special fund therefor.
C. 
If the owner of said vehicle shall claim any excess remaining after the application of the provisions of Subsections A and B of this section within one year of the removal, that excess shall be paid to the owner. If no such claim is made, then the excess shall be deposited by the Treasurer in the general fund.
Upon the sale of a vehicle pursuant to this chapter, all claims or interest therein shall be forever barred.
This chapter shall be enforced by the Police Department under the supervision and administration of those officials that are assigned the duties of supervising and administering the Police Department by the Charter of the City of Lewes.
Neither the City of Lewes nor any official or employee of the City acting under this chapter and no one who tows or stores a vehicle as a result of his being told to do so pursuant to this chapter shall be liable to criminal prosecution arising from such action or be liable to any person for the injury, loss or destruction of any real or personal property which occurs in the course of the removal or storage of any vehicle taken into custody under this chapter.
Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $200 and imprisonment for a term of not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days for the first such conviction. For a second or subsequent conviction, any person, firm or corporation shall be subject to a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $500 and imprisonment for a term of not less than 20 days nor more than 60 days for each such conviction. Each day that a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter continues shall be deemed and taken to be a separate and distinct violation.