[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Pawtucket, approved 4-11-1996 by Ch. No. 2411; amended in its entirety, approved 5-21-1998 by Ch. No. 2492. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Abandoned, Nonoperational and Motor Vehicle Ordinance."
For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meanings given herein.
- ABANDONED MOTOR VEHICLE
- As defined in the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island, a motor vehicle that is inoperable and over eight years old and is left unattended on public property for more than 48 hours, or a motor vehicle that has remained illegally on public property for a period of more than three days, or a motor vehicle that has remained on private property without the consent of the owner or person in control of the property for more than three days.
- ABANDONED MOTOR VEHICLE OF NO VALUE
- As defined in the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island, a motor vehicle that is inoperable and over 10 years old and is left unattended on public property for more than 48 hours, or a motor vehicle that has remained illegally on public property for a period of more than three days, or a motor vehicle that has remained on private property without the consent of the owner or person in control of the property for more than three days and meets the following criteria:
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any vehicle which is self-propelled and designed to travel along the ground and shall include but not be limited to automobiles, buses, motorbikes, motorcycles, trucks, tractors, go-carts, golf carts, campers, boats and trailers.
- NONOPERATIONAL MOTOR VEHICLE
- A motor vehicle which is left unattended on private property for more than three days, which does not have lawfully affixed thereto both an unexpired license plate or plates and a current motor vehicle safety inspection certificate and the condition of which is wrecked, dismantled, partially dismantled or inoperative.
- Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind.
- PRIVATE PROPERTY
- Any real property within the city which is privately owned and which is not public property, as defined in this section.
- PUBLIC PROPERTY
- Any street or highway which shall include the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained for the purposes of vehicular travel and also any other publicly owned property or facility.
- VEHICLE SURVEY REPORT
- A report printed in the form set forth in the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island.
No person shall park, store, leave or permit the parking, storing or leaving of any motor vehicle of any kind which is abandoned or nonoperational upon any public or private property within the city for a period of time in excess of three days.
The presence of an abandoned or nonoperational vehicle or parts thereof on private or public property is hereby declared a public nuisance which may be abated as such in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and those provisions of the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island relative to abandoned motor vehicles.
This section shall not apply to any vehicle enclosed within a building on private property, to any vehicle held in connection with a business enterprise, lawfully licensed by the city and properly operated in the appropriate business zone pursuant to the zoning laws of the city, or to any motor vehicle in operable condition specifically adopted or designed for operation on drag strips or raceways or any vehicle retained by the owner for antique collection purposes and registered for that purpose.
The Police Department or the Division of Zoning and Code Enforcement, upon completion of a vehicle survey report or, if required, upon receipt of an order of the Municipal Court, may take into custody any motor vehicle found abandoned or nonoperational on public or private property. In such connection, the Police Department or the Division of Zoning and Code Enforcement may employ its own personnel, equipment and facilities or authorize persons, equipment and facilities for the purpose of removing, preserving and storing abandoned motor vehicles.
It shall be unlawful for any person to interfere with, hinder or refuse to allow such person or persons to enter upon private property for the purpose of removing a motor vehicle under the provisions of this chapter.
Whenever it comes to the attention of the Police Department or the Division of Zoning and Code Enforcement that any abandoned motor vehicle or abandoned motor vehicle of no value is located on any property, public or private, in the City of Pawtucket, or a nonoperational motor vehicle is located on private property in the City of Pawtucket without the consent of the property owner as defined in § 383-2 of this chapter, the Police Department or the Division of Zoning and Code Enforcement shall post or attach to the vehicle 48 hours prior to towing, a notification of an abandoned or nonoperational vehicle indicating that the vehicle will be towed.
Summons to appear.
Whenever it comes to the attention of the Police Department or the Division of Zoning and Code Enforcement that any nonoperational motor vehicle as defined in § 383-2 of this chapter exists on private property in the City of Pawtucket with the consent of the owner of said private property, a notice in writing shall be served upon the owner of the land where said motor vehicle is located and upon the vehicle's owner or last known owner notifying them of the existence of the violation and requesting its removal within three days. Said notice shall also include a summons to appear in the Pawtucket Municipal Court, on a date certain, if the vehicle is not removed within the prescribed time.
The notice and summons to appear may be served by any sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable, police constable or the Pawtucket city sergeant. It shall also constitute sufficient notice and service of process when a copy of the same is posted in a conspicuous place upon the private property on which the vehicle is located and duplicate copies are sent by certified mail to the owner of the vehicle, if known, or the owner of the property at his or her last known address.
Whenever it comes to the attention of the Police Department or the Division of Zoning and Code Enforcement that any abandoned motor vehicle, abandoned motor vehicle of no value or a nonoperational motor vehicle is located on any property, public or private, in the city, with or without the consent of the property owner, and said motor vehicle is leaking fuel or other harmful substance, or creates a substantial hazard which, if allowed to remain, is a detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the city, the Police Department or the Division of Zoning and Code Enforcement shall immediately tow the motor vehicle in question without prior notification. However, the owner of said vehicle shall be entitled to a full and fair hearing in the Pawtucket Municipal Court within 14 days of the date that the owners and lienholders are given notice that the vehicle has been towed as set forth in § 383-6 of this chapter.
The notice to remove, as set forth in § 383-4A and B, shall contain the request for removal within the time specified in § 383-5 of this chapter. The notice shall also set forth the consequences and effect of failure to reclaim an abandoned or nonoperational motor vehicle and shall further state that if the abandoned or nonoperational motor vehicle is not removed within the time specified, the city or its designee shall undertake such removal with the cost of removal to be levied against the owner of the vehicle if known or, if unknown, the owner of the private property.
A Police Department which takes into custody an abandoned or nonoperational motor vehicle shall notify, within 15 days thereof, by registered mail, return receipt requested, the last known registered owner of the motor vehicle and all lienholders of record that the vehicle has been taken into custody. The notice shall describe the year, make, model and serial number of the abandoned or nonoperational motor vehicle; set forth the location of the facility where the motor vehicle is being held; inform the owner and any lienholders of their right to reclaim the motor vehicle within three weeks after the date of the notice upon payment of all towing, preservation and storage charges resulting from placing the vehicle in custody; and state that the failure of the owner or lienholders to exercise their right to reclaim the vehicle within the time provided shall be deemed a waiver by the owner and all lienholders of all right, title and interest in the vehicle and consent to the sale of the abandoned motor vehicle at a public auction.
If the identity of the last registered owner cannot be determined or if the registration contains no address for the owner or if it is impossible to determine with reasonable certainty the identity and addresses of all lienholders, notice by one publication in one newspaper of general circulation in the area where the motor vehicle was abandoned shall be sufficient to meet all requirements of notice pursuant to this chapter. The notice by publication can contain multiple listings of abandoned or nonoperational motor vehicles. The notice shall be within the time requirements prescribed for notice by registered mail and shall have the same contents required for a notice by registered mail.
The consequences and effect of failure to reclaim an abandoned or nonoperational motor vehicle shall be as set forth in a valid notice given pursuant to this section.
If an abandoned or nonoperational motor vehicle has not been reclaimed as provided for in § 383-6, the Police Department shall sell the abandoned or nonoperational motor vehicle at a public auction. The purchaser of the motor vehicle shall take title to the motor vehicle free and clear of all liens and claims of ownership, shall receive a sales receipt and bill of sale from the Police Department and shall be entitled to register the purchased vehicle. The sales receipt at a sale shall be sufficient title only for purposes of transferring the vehicle to a demolisher for demolition, wrecking or dismantling, and, in such case, no further registration of the vehicle shall be necessary. From the proceeds of the sale of an abandoned or nonoperational motor vehicle, the Police Department shall reimburse itself for the expenses of the auction, the costs of towing, preserving and storing the vehicle which resulted from placing the abandoned or nonoperational motor vehicle in custody and all notices and publication costs incurred pursuant to § 383-6. Any remainder from the proceeds of a sale shall be held for the owner of the vehicle or entitled lienholder for 90 days and then shall be deposited in a special abandoned motor vehicle fund which shall remain available for the payment of auction, towing, preserving, storage and all notice and publication costs which result from placing other abandoned or nonoperational vehicles in custody, whenever the proceeds from a sale of the other abandoned motor vehicles are insufficient to meet these expenses and costs. Whenever the Finance Director finds that moneys in the abandoned motor vehicle fund are in excess of reserves likely to be needed for the purposes thereof, he or she may transfer the excess to the general fund, but, in such event, claims against the abandoned motor vehicle fund, if the abandoned motor vehicle fund is temporarily exhausted, shall be met from the general fund to the limit of any transfers previously made thereto pursuant to this section.
The owner of any vehicle seized under the provisions of this chapter may redeem such vehicle at the time after its removal but prior to the sale or destruction thereof upon proof of ownership and payment to the city of such sum as may be determined and fixed for the actual and reasonable expense of removal and any preliminary sale advertising expenses, plus all storage costs incurred for each vehicle redeemed.
Any person who violates the provisions of this chapter regarding abandoned motor vehicles on private property shall be fined not more than $500. In addition, the violator shall be responsible for all costs relating to the approval and disposal of said abandoned motor vehicle paid by the private property owner or the city.