05/18/10 — Fremont will target junk cars in yards

View Archive

Fremont will target junk cars in yards

By Laura Collins
Published in News on May 18, 2010 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- For Fremont residents, keeping a clunker will come with a price.

Starting this week, the Fremont Police Department will begin issuing notices to owners of abandoned and junk vehicles that are in violation of the town's ordinance.

According to the rule, any vehicle that does not display a current license plate and is partially wrecked or dismantled, or can't be self-propelled or move in the manner in which it was intended, or is more than 5 years old and appears to be worth than $500, is considered an abandoned or junk vehicle.

Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said it has been about three and a half years since the last time the town cracked down on the junk cars. Police Chief R.K. Rawlings said the initiative was prompted by residents.

"Basically we started getting complaints from neighbors saying they take time to clean their yards, keep their grass cut and then they look next door and there's cars out there wrecked and sitting in the yard with grass growing up around it," Rawlings said. "As complaints pile up, I think it's encumbent of the police department to do something about it."

Police officers will leave orange notices on cars they have identified as junk or abandoned and will also send letters to the car's registered owner, according to the DMV. Rawlings said if a car is out of sight in a garage, then the owner will not be sent a letter.

"I can understand people working on antiques in a shelter where it can't be seen from the road," he said. "But if you just have a cover on it, that's not going to work."

Rawlings also warns people who have a car on their property that is not registered in their name.

"Sometimes you might have a car that doesn't belong to the resident. For those vehicles, the last owner will be notified. If he doesn't do anything about it, even if it's on someone else's property, we'll tow that at the owner's expense," he said.

Once the warning stickers are issued, the owner has 30 days to move the car out of sight, or to get a valid license plate for it. Otherwise, the town will town the car at the owner's expense.

McDuffie said towing the cars does not cost the town anything but time.

"What it costs is basically employee time," he said. "The cost for the towing service can be recovered when people come back and pick it up. Most of that money will cover the cost of towing and storage fee."

Rawlings said he hopes to make rounding up junk cars an annual initiative to lower the number of cars they will tow. Three and a half years ago, the town towed 40 cars. Rawlings said he expects about 20 this year.