CITY OF WARWICK
ORDINANCE NO. 0-13-4
APPROVED SCOTT AVEDISIAN
April 29, 2013 MAYOR
JUNKED OR ABANDONED VEHICLES
Be it ordained by the City of Warwick:
Section I. Chapter 76 Article VI of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Warwick is hereby amended as follows:
The State of Rhode Island has adopted a Property Maintenance Code which is utilized by the City’s Property Maintenance Division to cite property owners for violations under the Property Maintenance Code. That Code contains provisions for minimum standards of property maintenance as well as provisions regarding notice to property owners which govern issuance of violations to property owners by the City’s Property Maintenance Division.
The State Property Maintenance Code states that the provisions of the code shall not be deemed to nullify any provisions of local, state or federal law. To address situations of chronic violators the city has enacted the ordinances hereinafter set forth to supplement the provisions of the State Property Maintenance Code.
Sec. 76-300. Definitions.
As used in this article, the following words shall have the meaning as set forth in this section.
Abandoned, junked or dismantled vehicles includes parts thereof, including bodies, engines, wheels, bumpers, tires, mufflers, transmissions, rear ends, etc.and also includes those vehicles which have not been duly registered according to law or which lack the equipment in good operating condition as required by law to enable them to be registered or which do not display a current state certificate of inspection pursuant to G.L. 1956, § 31-38-4, as amended, and the rules and regulations of the state department of transportation, or which do not display a current state inspection sticker pursuant to the laws, rules and regulations of the state in which they are registered.
The term “abandoned, junked or dismantled vehicles” shall not be deemed to include unregistered seasonal farm vehicles operated by the owner of said vehicles on his/her own property, nor shall the term “abandoned, junked or dismantled vehicles “ be deemed to include vehicles which are purchased for purposes of restoration and which comply with the definition of antique vehicles as set out in G.L. 1956, § 31-1-3.
Certificated tower means a carrier possessing a certificate of public convenience and necessity issued by the public utilities administrator for the purpose of transporting vehicles by tow-away method.
Legal owner means the person who has obtained ownership of a vehicle by any legal means but has not caused the vehicle to be registered with the division of motor vehicles.
Police department means the police department of the City of Warwick.
Possessory lien means the right to retain possession of a vehicle and motor vehicle registration plates against all claims of the owner and/or security lien or until all charges are paid for recovery, towing, storage in accordance with the certificated tower’s tariff.
Premises includes public or private property, city streets and public highways.
Public property includes property owned by the city or state, property acquired by the city at tax sales and all streets and highways within the city, whether or not they are public highways.
Registered owner means the person recorded in the division of motor vehicles as being the one to whom the registration of the vehicle was issued.
Tow truck means any motor vehicle designed and/or ordinarily used for the purpose of towing or removing vehicles or assisting disabled motor vehicles.
Vehicle means any motor vehicle as defined in G.L. § 39-12-2(m).
Sec. 76-301 Notice to remove vehicle on private property.
(a) The owner of any abandoned, junked or dismantled vehicle shall remove the same within seventy two hours after being ordered to do so by the police department. Where said owner of the vehicle is not known or cannot readily be ascertained, notice to remove may be given by attaching such notice to said vehicle. The police department upon request therefor shall assist in ascertaining the name and address of the owner of any such vehicle. This section shall not apply to vehicles stored, kept, deposited or abandoned on public property or upon city streets and public highways.
(b) If the owner of any vehicle aforesaid is also the owner, lessee, or occupant of the premises, notice to remove as aforesaid shall be given by the police department or the city’s property maintenance office.
(c) An unregistered vehicle on premises not owned or occupied by the owner of said vehicle may be deemed to be abandoned and may be removed.
Sec. 76-302 Abandoned, junked or dismantled vehicles prohibited on public property.
No person shall deposit, store, keep or permit to be deposited, stored or kept in the open, upon public property, as defined in Sec.76-301, or upon city streets and public highways, a dismantled, unserviceable, junked or abandoned vehicle or one legally or physically incapable of being operated.
Sec. 76-303. Violations; chronic offenders.
Any violation of Sec. 76-301 or Sec. 76-302 shall be punishable as provided in Sec. 1-4 of the Code of Ordinances. Each day any violation shall continue shall constitute a separate offense.
A violation does not require that the same abandoned, junked or dismantled vehicle be left on the premises or on public property. Leaving different abandoned, junked or dismantled vehicles on the premises or on public property is deemed to be a violation that is continuing and constitutes a separate offense each day that any abandoned, junked or dismantled vehicle remains on the premises or on public property provided each vehicle was abandoned, junked or dismantled as defined herein.
A chronic offender is an owner of abandoned, junked or dismantled vehicles to whom three notices of violation for any offenses under this article were issued within a six (6) month period. A chronic offender is subject to the following:
(a) Whenever any abandoned, junked or dismantled vehicle is on the premises or on public property, the police department, or any officer thereof, shall direct the owner or operator to remove such vehicle and shall give him/her a reasonable opportunity to do so.
(b) If the owner or operator of the abandoned, junked or dismantled vehicle is unable or unwilling to remove such vehicle by his/her own efforts or resources within a reasonable time as directed by the police department, he/she shall be directed to call or designate a certificated tower of his/her own choice to remove the vehicle. If such owner or operator refuses, fails, is unable, or is not readily available to call or select a certificated tower as aforesaid, the police department shall call a certificated tower and direct that such vehicle be removed to a suitable place.
Sec. 26-384. 76-304 Removal of vehicle.
Upon failure to remove any vehicle illegally parked or stored within the time limit herein, said owner, lessee, occupant of the premises or the police department shall forthwith remove or cause the said vehicle to be removed from the premises.
Sec. 76- 305. Towing from private property.
(a) The owner or person in control of any parcel of property may cause to be removed from the property vehicles which are trespassing upon the property without the consent of the owner or person in control of the property by retaining in writing a certificated tower to remove the trespassing vehicle and relocate the vehicle to its private impoundment lot; and this procedure may be undertaken and accomplished without the need to resort to judicial process; provided, however that the impoundment lot shall be within ten miles of the point of removal and provided further that the lot shall be open for business to release the vehicle the same hours it is open to receive the vehicle; and provided further that there shall be posted on the outside of the office of the lot the business hours.
(b) All charges for towing, in accordance with the published tariff and storage shall be borne by the last registered and/or legal owner of the vehicle for which charges the certificated tower shall have a possessory lien as set forth elsewhere in this article, and pursuant to G.L. of the State of Rhode Island tit. 39, ch. 12.1; provided, however, that should the last registered and/or legal owner prove through judicial process that the vehicle was not in fact trespassing on the property of the owner or person in control, the charges shall be borne by the owner or person in control of the property who ordered the towing, removal, relocation and storage. The last registered and/or legal owner shall, however, as a prerequisite to procedure to recover the charges, from the owner or person in control of the property, pay in full all charges assessed due the certificated tower in accordance with its published tariff.
(c) A certificated tower shall remove vehicles from private property at the direction of the owner or person in control thereof only upon receiving the direction in writing, which writing and notice shall be kept in the records of the certificated tower and which writing shall be a complete defense to any civil and criminal charges resulting from removal of the vehicle.
Sec. 76-302. 306. Notice and processing of abandoned/junked motor vehicles by certificated tower.
(a) A certified tower removing an abandoned or unattended vehicle shall notify within two hours thereof, the police department, and shall provide:
(1) The year, make, model and serial number of the vehicle.
(2) The name, address and telephone number of the certificated tower.
(3) The street address or location from which the vehicle was towed.
(b) A certificated tower removing an abandoned or unattended vehicle shall notify within 14 days thereof, by registered mail, return receipt requested, the last known registered owner of the vehicle and all lienholders of record at the address shown in the records of the appropriate registry in the state in which the vehicle is registered that the vehicle has been taken into custody. The notice shall be substantially in the form provided in G.L. § 39-12.1-13 and shall describe:
(1) The year, make, model and serial number of the vehicle.
(2) The name, address and telephone number of the certificated tower.
(3) That the vehicle is in the possession of that certificated tower.
(4) That recovery, towing, and storage charges are accruing as a legal liability of the registered and/or legal owner.
(5) That the certificated tower claims a possessory lien for all recovery, towing, and storage charges.
(6) That the registered and/or legal owner may retake possession at any time during business hours by appearing, proving ownership, and paying all charges due the certificated tower pursuant to its published tariff.
(7) That should the registered and/or legal owner consider that the original taking was improper or not legally justified, he or she has a right to file an administrative complaint pursuant to G.L. tit. 39, ch. 12 to contest the original taking.
(8) That if no claim is filed and the vehicle is not claimed and possession retaken or arranged for within 30 days of the mailing of the notice, the lien will be foreclosed and the vehicle will be sold at public auction.
(9) That the proceeds of the sale shall be first applied to recovery, towing, and storage charges with and excess proceeds being deposited as provided in accordance with G.L. § 39-12.1-9(d)(3).
(10) That any recovery, towing, and storage charges in excess of the sale proceeds shall remain as a civil obligation of the registered and/or legal owner.
(c) If the identity of the last registered owner cannot be determined from the records of the appropriate registry in the state in which the vehicle is registered, or if the registration contains no address for the ownership 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 vehicle was abandoned or left unattended shall be sufficient to meet all requirements of notice pursuant to this chapter. A notice by publication may contain multiple listings of abandoned or unattended vehicles. Any notice by publication 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.
Sec. 76-307. Exemption from liability for damage to removed vehicle.
Neither the owner, lessee or occupant of the premises from which any vehicle shall be removed, his/her or its servant or agent, nor the city, shall be liable for any loss or damage to said vehicle while being removed or as a result of any subsequent sale or other disposition.
Sec. 76. 308. Possessory lien.
Any certificated tower coming into possession of a vehicle in any lawful manner, shall have a possessory lien on the vehicle and registration plates, so long as it retains possession, and if it has conformed in full with the provisions of G.L. §§ 39-12.1-4 and 39-12.1-8. The lien shall be in an amount in accordance with its published tariff.
Sec. 76- 309. Thirty-day waiting period.
Any certificated tower in possession of any vehicle subject to a possessory lien for a period in excess of 30 consecutive days, and not having been compensated in accordance with its published tariff, is authorized to give notice and proceed to foreclosure as provided in G.L. §§ 39-12.1-8 and 39-12.1-9. Any enforcement initiated by the certificated tower shall follow the provisions of G.L. tit. 39, ch. 12.1, as they may be amended from time to time.
Sec. 76-310. License for open storage—Issuance; term.
(a) Licenses shall be issued through the building official or his/her delegate upon application by the owner of the vehicle. Licenses shall be valid for a period of 60 days. Licenses shall be issued to the owner of a vehicle or his/her agent which normally falls within the prohibitions of this article by the building official or his/her delegate, for any of the following purposes:
(1) Vehicles in legal operating condition which are temporarily unregistered.
(2) Unregistered vehicles in legal operating condition which are being stored on private property by persons serving in the military forces of the United States.
(3) Vehicles stored on private property while they are in the process of being repaired by the owner thereof.
(b) Said licenses shall be valid for a period of 60 days or a shorter period in the discretion of the building official or his or her designee, but may be extended for additional 60-day periods by the building official or his or her designee at his/her discretion upon the showing of good cause by the owner of said vehicle.
Sec. 76-311 Same—Fee; discretionary authority of building official.
Licenses shall be issued in writing and without fee for any of the causes listed in section 76-310 by the building official or his/her designee, but he/she shall not be limited solely to the causes set out in section 76-310, and he/she shall be granted authority to issue licenses for other causes in his/her discretion. Licenses issued by the building official for causes other than those set out in section 76-310 shall be issued only upon written application by the owner of said vehicle setting out those causes excepting him/her from the prohibitions of this article.
Sec. 26-388. 76-312. Same—Appeal of denial.
Appeals from the decision of the building official declining a request for a license under this article shall be submitted to the zoning board of review in writing within ten days after the declining of the license.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT TRAVIS