CHAPTER 12:  VEHICLES AND BOATS
Section
Article I.  Abandoned Vehicles and Boats
Division 1.  Generally
   12-1   Definitions
   12-2   Immunity
   12-3   Exceptions
   12-4   Abandonment prohibited
   12-5   Duty of owner
   12-6   Failure of owner to remove
   12-7   Removal authorized
   12-8   Notice of removal
   12-9   Redemption
   12-10 – 12-19   Reserved
Division 2.  Sale, Disposal of Abandoned Vehicles
   12-20   Authorized
   12-21   Disposition as junk
   12-22   Sale at auction
   12-23   Notice of sale
   12-24   Redemption
   12-25   Disposition of proceeds
   12-26   Issuance of title certificate
   12-27 – 12-29   Reserved
Division 3.  Sale, Disposal of Junked Vehicles
   12-30   Authorized
   12-31   Notice
   12-32   Disposition of proceeds
   12-33 – 12-39   Reserved
Division 4.  Removal and Disposition of Vehicles Declared to be Public Nuisances
   12-40   Definitions
   12-41   Nuisance vehicle unlawful; removal authorized
   12-42   Removal of vehicle – Pretowing requirements
   12-43   Same – Post-towing notice requirements
   12-44   Sale of vehicle – Right to probable cause hearing before sale
   12-45   Same – Procedure for unclaimed vehicles
   12-46   Same – Disposition of proceeds of sale
   12-47   Immunity
   12-48   Exceptions
   12-49   Reserved
Statutory reference:
   Abandoned vehicle ordinances, see G.S. §§ 160A-303, 160A-303.2
   Nuisance abatement, see G.S. § 160A-193
ARTICLE I.  ABANDONED VEHICLES AND BOATS
Editor’s Note:
   This article is derived from an ordinance adopted June 5, 1991. The following statement was included with the ordinance:
      “Section 1-7 of Division 1. and Sections 1-3 of Division 3. of this article [§§ 12-112-7, 12-3012-32] do not apply when the vehicle does not display a license plate and the vehicle identification numbers have been removed or defaced so as to be illegible. Such vehicles may be destroyed or sold at private sale (without regard to value) after being held for 48 hours.”
DIVISION 1.  GENERALLY
§ 12-1  DEFINITIONS.
   For the purpose of this article, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.
   ABANDONED MOTOR VEHICLE.  A vehicle that:
      (1)   Has been left upon a street or highway in violation of a law or ordinance prohibiting parking;
      (2)   Is left on property owned or operated by the town for longer than 24 hours;
      (3)   Is left on private property without the consent of the owner, occupant or lessee thereof for longer than two hours; or
      (4)   Is left on any public street or highway for longer than seven days.
   JUNKED MOTOR VEHICLE. An abandoned motor vehicle which also:
      (1)   Is partially dismantled or wrecked;
      (2)   Cannot be self-propelled or moved in the manner in which it was originally intended to move;
      (3)   Is more than five years old and worth less than $500; or
      (4)   Does not display a current license plate.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-2  IMMUNITY.
   No person shall be held to answer in any civil or criminal action to any owner or other person legally entitled to the possession of any abandoned, lost or stolen motor vehicle for disposing of the vehicle as provided in this article.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-3  EXCEPTIONS.
   Nothing in the provisions of this article shall apply to any vehicle in an enclosed building or any vehicle on the premises of a business enterprise being operated in a lawful place and manner if the vehicle is necessary to the operation of the enterprise, or to any vehicle in an appropriate storage place or depository maintained in a lawful place and manner by the town.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-4  ABANDONMENT PROHIBITED.
   No person shall abandon any vehicle coming under the provisions of this article within the town; and no person shall leave or allow to remain any abandoned, junked or otherwise discarded vehicle on property under his or her control.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-5  DUTY OF OWNER.
   If a motor vehicle is abandoned on a public street or upon property owned or operated by the municipality, it shall be the duty and responsibility of the owner of such vehicle, after due notice, to cause the removal of such vehicle immediately and pay all costs incidental to such removal.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-6  FAILURE OF OWNER TO REMOVE.
   Any junked or abandoned motor vehicle located upon any occupied or unoccupied private property within the town which has not been removed after ten days’ notice from the town to the owner or occupant, upon being declared a health or safety hazard by the Town Building Inspector, may be removed to a garage or storage area and disposed of, pursuant to the provisions of this article and G.S. § 160A-303 and amendments thereto.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-7  REMOVAL AUTHORIZED.
   Any junked or abandoned motor vehicle found to be in violation of this article may be removed to a storage garage or area; but no such vehicle shall be removed from private property without the written request of the owner, lessee or occupant of the premises unless the Board of Aldermen or a duly authorized town official or employee has declared it to be a health or safety hazard. The town may require any person requesting the removal of a junked or abandoned motor vehicle from private property to indemnify the town against any loss, expense or liability incurred because of the removal, storage or sale thereof.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-8  NOTICE OF REMOVAL.
   When any junked or abandoned motor vehicle is removed under the provisions of this article, the town shall give written notice of the removal to the registered owner at his or her last known address according to the latest registration certificate or certificate of title on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles. The notice shall inform the owner of the possible sale or other disposition that can be made of the vehicle under this article. Notice need not be given to the registered owner of the vehicle when it does not display a license plate and the vehicle identification numbers have been removed or defaced so as to be illegible.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-9  REDEMPTION.
   The owner of any vehicle removed from property pursuant to the provisions of this article may regain possession of the vehicle by paying to the town all reasonable costs incidental to the removal and storage.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§§ 12-10 – 12-19  RESERVED.
DIVISION 2.  SALE, DISPOSAL OF ABANDONED VEHICLES
§ 12-20  AUTHORIZED.
   After holding an unclaimed abandoned motor vehicle for 30 days, the town may sell or dispose of it as provided by this division.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-21  DISPOSITION AS JUNK.
   If an abandoned vehicle appears to be worth less than $100, the town may dispose of the vehicle as a junked motor vehicle as provided by Division 3 of this article. With the consent of the owner, the town may remove and dispose of any motor vehicle as a junked motor vehicle without regard to the value, condition or age of the vehicle, and without holding it for any prescribed period of time.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-22  SALE AT AUCTION.
   If an unclaimed abandoned motor vehicle is worth $100 or more, it shall be sold at public auction.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-23  NOTICE OF SALE.
   Twenty days’ written notice of a sale authorized under the provisions of this division 2. shall be given to the registered owner at his or her last known address, the holders of all liens of record against the vehicle, and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-24  REDEMPTION.
   Any person having an interest in an unclaimed abandoned motor vehicle may redeem it at any time before the sale by paying all costs accrued to date.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-25  DISPOSITION OF PROCEEDS.
   The proceeds of a sale authorized by this division 2. shall be paid to the Town Treasurer, who shall pay to the appropriate officers or persons the costs of removal, storage, investigation, sale and liens in that order. The remainder of the proceeds of sale, if any, shall be paid over to the registered owner, or held by the town for 60 days if the registered owner cannot be located with reasonable diligence. If the owner does not claim the remainder of the proceeds within 60 days after the sale, the funds shall be deposited in the town’s General Fund and the owner’s rights therein shall be forever extinguished.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-26  ISSUANCE OF TITLE CERTIFICATE.
   When it receives a town’s bill of sale from a purchaser or other person entitled to receive any vehicle disposed of as provided in this division, the Department of Motor Vehicles shall issue a certificate of title for the vehicle as required by law.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§§ 12-27 – 12-29  RESERVED.
DIVISION 3.  SALE, DISPOSAL OF JUNKED VEHICLES
§ 12-30  AUTHORIZED.
   After holding an unclaimed junked motor vehicle for 15 days, the town may destroy it or sell it at private sale as junk.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-31  NOTICE.
   Within 15 days after final disposition of a junked motor vehicle, the town shall notify the Department of Motor Vehicles that the vehicle has been determined to be a junked motor vehicle and disposed of as such. The notice shall contain as full and accurate a description of the vehicle as can be reasonably determined.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-32  DISPOSITION OF PROCEEDS.
   Any proceeds from the sale of a junked motor vehicle, after all costs of removal, storage, investigation and sale, and satisfying any liens of record on the vehicle have been deducted therefrom, shall be held by the town for 30 days and paid to the registered owner upon demand. If the owner does not appear to claim the proceeds within 30 days after disposal of the vehicle, the funds shall be deposited in the town’s General Fund and the owner’s rights therein shall be forever extinguished.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§§ 12-33 – 12-39  RESERVED.
DIVISION 4.  REMOVAL AND DISPOSITION OF VEHICLES
DECLARED TO BE PUBLIC NUISANCES
§ 12-40  DEFINITIONS.
   For the purpose of this division, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.
   JUNKED MOTOR VEHICLE. A vehicle that does not display a current license plate and that:
      (1)   Is partially dismantled or wrecked;
      (2)   Cannot be self-propelled or moved in the manner in which it originally was intended to move; or
      (3)   Is more than five years old and appears to be worth less than $100.
   NUISANCE VEHICLE. A junked motor vehicle on public or private property that is determined and declared to be a health or safety hazard, a public nuisance or unlawful, including a vehicle found to be:
      (1)   A breeding ground or harbor for mosquitoes, other insects, rats or other pests;
      (2)   A point of heavy growth of weeds or other noxious vegetation over eight inches in height;
      (3)   A point of collection of pools or ponds of water;
      (4)   A point of concentration of quantities of gasoline, oil or other flammable or explosive materials as evidenced by odor;
      (5)   One which has areas of confinement which cannot be operated from the inside, such as trunks, hoods and the like;
      (6)   So situated or located that there is a danger of it falling or turning over;
      (7)   Any other vehicle specifically declared a health and safety hazard and a public nuisance by the Board of Aldermen; or
      (8)   So offensive to the sight as to damage the community, neighborhood or area appearance.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-41  NUISANCE VEHICLE UNLAWFUL; REMOVAL AUTHORIZED.
   (a)   It shall be unlawful for the owner of a motor vehicle or for the owner, lessee or occupant of the real property upon which the vehicle is located to leave or allow the vehicle to remain on the property after it has been declared a nuisance vehicle.
   (b)   Upon investigation, the Town Building Inspector may determine and declare that a vehicle is a health or safety hazard or a public nuisance as defined above and order the vehicle removed.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-42  REMOVAL OF VEHICLE – PRETOWING REQUIREMENTS.
   (a)   A vehicle to be towed or otherwise removed because it has been declared to be a nuisance vehicle shall be towed only after notice to the owner or person entitled to possession of the vehicle. If the names and mailing addresses of the owners of the vehicle or the real property upon which it is located can be ascertained in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the notice shall be given to both by first class mail. The person who mails the notice(s) shall retain a written record to show the name(s) and address(es) to which mailed, and the date mailed. If such names and addresses cannot be ascertained, notice shall be given by affixing same on the windshield or some other conspicuous place on the vehicle. The notice shall state that the vehicle will be removed by the town on a specified date, no sooner than seven days after the notice is affixed or mailed, unless the vehicle is moved by the owner or legal possessor prior to that time.
   (b)   If the owner or person entitled to possession does not remove the vehicle but chooses to appeal the determination that the vehicle is a nuisance vehicle, such appeal shall be made to the Board of Aldermen in writing, heard at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board and further proceedings to remove the vehicle shall be stayed until the appeal is heard and decided.
   (c)   A nuisance vehicle may be removed without giving the minimum seven days prior notice, only in those circumstances where the authorizing official finds, and enters such findings in appropriate records, a special need for prompt action to maintain the public health, safety and welfare.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-43  SAME – POST-TOWING NOTICE REQUIREMENTS.
   (a)   Any vehicle which has been determined to be a nuisance vehicle may be removed to a storage garage or area by a towing business contracting to perform such services for the town. Whenever such vehicle is removed, the Building Inspector shall immediately notify the last known registered owner of the vehicle, such notice to include the following:
      (1)   A description of the removed vehicle;
      (2)   The location where the vehicle is stored;
      (3)   The violation with which the owner is charged, if any;
      (4)   The procedure the owner must follow to redeem the vehicles; and
      (5)   The procedure the owner must follow to request a probable cause hearing on the removal.
   (b)   This notice shall be mailed to the owner’s last known address, unless waived in writing.
   (c)   If the vehicle is registered in the state, notice shall be mailed within 24 hours. If the vehicle is not registered in this state, notice shall be mailed to the owner within 72 hours from the removal of the vehicle.
   (d)   Whenever a nuisance vehicle is removed, and such vehicle has no valid registration or registration plate, the authorizing town official shall make reasonable efforts, including the checking of the vehicle identification number, to determine the last known registered owner of the vehicle and to notify him or her of the information as set forth in subsections (a)(1) through (a)(5) above.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-44  SALE OF VEHICLE – RIGHT TO PROBABLE CAUSE HEARING BEFORE SALE.
   After removal of a vehicle declared to be a nuisance vehicle, the owner or other person entitled to possession may request, in writing, a hearing to determine if probable cause existed for removing the vehicle. The request must be filed with the Magistrate in the county where the vehicle was towed. The Magistrate will set the hearing within 72 hours of receipt of the request, and the hearing will be conducted in accordance with the provision of G.S. § 20-219.11.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-45  SAME – PROCEDURE FOR UNCLAIMED VEHICLES.
   (a)   With the consent of the owner, the Building Inspector may dispose of any vehicle as a junked motor vehicle without holding it for any prescribed period of time.
   (b)   Any unclaimed junked motor vehicle as defined by this article shall be held for a period of at least 15 days. The owner of any such vehicle may claim his or her vehicle during the 15-day retention period by exhibiting proof of ownership to the Building Inspector and after paying all reasonable costs incident to the removal and storage of the vehicle plus administrative expenses. If after the vehicle is held 15 days it remains unclaimed, such vehicle may be destroyed or sold at private sale as junk.
   (c)   Within 15 days after final disposition of a junked motor vehicle, written notice thereof shall be given to the Department of Motor Vehicles that the vehicle has been determined to be a junked motor vehicle and disposed of as such. The notice shall contain as full and accurate a description of the vehicle as can be reasonably determined.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-46  SAME – DISPOSITION OF PROCEEDS OF SALE.
   The proceeds of the sale of a junked motor vehicle declared to be a nuisance, after all costs of removal, storage, investigation and sale, and satisfaction of any lien of record on the vehicle have been deducted therefrom, shall be held by the Town Finance Officer for 30 days and paid to the owner upon demand. If the owner does not appear to claim the remainder of the proceeds within 30 days after disposal of the vehicle, the funds shall be deposited into the town’s General Fund and the owner’s rights therein shall be forever extinguished.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-47  IMMUNITY.
   Neither the town nor any person shall be held to answer in any civil or criminal action to any owner or other person legally entitled to the possession of any junked, lost or stolen vehicle for disposing of such vehicle as contemplated by this article.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-48  EXCEPTIONS.
   Nothing in this article shall apply to any motor vehicle in an enclosed building, any motor vehicle kept or stored at a bona fide “automobile graveyard” or “junkyard” as defined in G.S. § 136-143 or to any motor vehicle that is used on a regular basis for business or personal use.
(Ord. passed 6-5-1991)
§ 12-49  RESERVED.