Damaged vehicles on borough streets
[Photos: Dennis Wolpert]
"Why do we have ordinances pertaining to all this, but yet we can't enforce them? Why do we have to have vehicles like this sitting in our neighborhoods?" Wolpert asked. He said he has talked to the police, code officers, and the mayor, all of whom told him they would take care of the problem. "I don't see anything being done about it," he told council. He said he believes the problem is a nuisance and a safety issue and urged council to strengthen ordinances to allow for the removal of vehicles from yards. Lutz replied, "This is part of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. We cannot create that ordinance that's contrary to a state law."
John Novak, chair of the borough's legislation committee, said, "On private property it can be addressed. On public streets, it is regulated by the State of Pennsylvania." The borough therefore cannot change its ordinance to allow it to remove an unregistered or uninspected vehicle from its streets, according to Novak. However, an ordinance exists addressing the issue on private property, Novak said, adding that he believed the borough could ask to have a vehicle removed.
Lutz apparently disagreed. "You can't go on private property and remove someone's property," he said, adding that towing companies will not enter private property. (In a seemingly contradictory statement, Lutz said the following at the August 9, 2017 legislation committee meeting: "The codes guy has been doing a wonderful job yanking them out of yards. George [Weis] is a specialist at yanking cars out of yards.") In addition, Lutz said the borough is not allowed to remove abandoned vehicles on its streets but is permitted to ticket them. Greg Sahd recommended contacting PA Senator Ryan Aument or Representative Dave Hickernell about the state's role.
The following information currently appears on the borough's website:
§ 207-32. Parking of unlicensed or abandoned vehicles prohibited.
Unlicensed vehicles or abandoned vehicles are prohibited from parking on any street or avenue in the Borough of Columbia for any period longer than 48 hours.
§ 207-33. Violations and penalties.
The police of the Borough of Columbia are authorized to arrest upon view and without warrant any person or persons violating this article, and the person or persons so violating shall be subject to a penalty as set forth in the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
§ 207-35. Authority of Chief of Police.
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized to remove and impound or to order the removal and impounding of any vehicle parked on any of the streets, highways or public property of the Borough in violation of the provisions of this article or the provisions of law or any ordinance of the Borough.