Beginning February 1, vehicles located inside the city limits will become subject to the Town of Franklin's new Junk Car Ordinance.
According to a fact sheet sent from the desk of Franklin's Town Planner Derek Roland, the newly established ordinance will allow law enforcement to dispose of three categories of vehicles left within the city limits.
The ordinance states that three types of vehicles, identified as abandoned, junked motor or nuisance vehicles will be subject to removal by town officials. Abandoned vehicles are defined as vehicles left on a public street or highway longer than seven days; on property owned by the Town for more than 24 hours; or on private property without consent for longer than two hours. Junked motor vehicles are classified as vehicles that do not display a current license plate and have been dismantled or wrecked, cannot be moved, is more than five years old and appears to be worth less than $100.
According to the ordinance, a nuisance vehicle is characterized as a vehicle on public or private property that is declared a safety hazard, public nuisance and unlawful, including a vehicle found to:
1) Be a harbor for rats mosquitos, or other pests;
2) Be a point of heavy growth for weeds or noxious vegetation over eight inches in height;
3) Be a point of collection for ponds of water;
4) Be a point of concentration for flammable or explosive materials as evidenced by odor;
5) Have areas of confinement (trunks and hoods) that cannot be operated from inside;
6) Be situated so that the vehicle is in danger of falling over;
7) Be a point of collection of garbage, animal waste or any other rotten matter;
8) Have debris, bottles, or other solid waste discarded and present within vehicle;
9) Have sharp edges of glass or metal present;
10) Be any vehicle declared a health and safety hazard and a public nuisance by the Department of Health.
The ordinance does clarify which vehicles are exempt from the new regulations by explaining that vehicles located within a bona fide automobile graveyard or junk yard, as defined by state law, in accordance with the Junk Yard Control Act, and in compliance with applicable zoning standards, will not be considered under the ordinance for possible removal.
Other vehicles that are not subject to consideration by town officials include vehicles in an enclosed building, vehicles in appropriate storage places or depository maintained in a lawful place and manner by the Town or vehicles covered with a fitted car cover designed for that vehicle and parked on property so the vehicle cannot be seen from a public street or abutting property.
The ordinance does distinguish that vehicles in an enclosed area on private property or an enclosed area in the rear or side yard of the place of an automobile repair business properly licensed, provided the vehicle is being kept pursuant to the operation of that business are not initially subject to consideration of removal, but will only be viewed as an exception for 180 days. The movement of a vehicle from the enclosed area to an unenclosed area at the same location will not be considered removal of the vehicle from the enclosed area.
Town officials including the Franklin Police Department and Town Code Enforcement Officer will have the authority to locate vehicles identified under the ordinance and then the Town will engage local towing companies on a rotating basis to remove the vehicles. Fees for towing and storage of any vehicles in violation will be owed by the car owner directly to the towing company who towed and stored the vehicle.
Before removing the vehicle, the ordinance calls for an order to have the vehicle removed be issued to allow the owner to dispose of the vehicle prior to forceful removal. In the event that the names of the vehicle owners can not be found, or if the vehicle is abandoned, notice will be placed on the windshield, indicating date of removal.
The ordinance permits town officials to remove the vehicle seven days after notice has been mailed or posted. The seven day waiting period will be waived in certain instances where there is a special need for prompt action to eliminate traffic obstructions or to otherwise maintain and protect the public safety and welfare.
• If the vehicle is categorized as an unclaimed vehicle, the town truck operator or towing business will have custody of the vehicle and will be allowed to determine further action.
• The newly determined ordinance does define an appeal process which will allow property owners to dispute claims brought forth by the town. If a person entitled to possession of vehicle ordered removed chooses to appeal the determination that the vehicle is abandoned, a nuisance, or junked, the appeal will be made to the Town Manager in writing, and will be heard within a reasonable amount of time. Further proceedings to remove the vehicle will be stayed until this appeal is heard and decided.
• If a vehicle is removed and then the property owner wishes to dispute the town's decision, the person entitled to possession can request a hearing for the purpose of determining if probable cause existed for removing the vehicle. A request for hearing must be filed in writing with the county magistrate designated by the chief district court judge. The magistrate will set the hearing within 72 hours of receiving the request.