NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Borough Council postponed the introduction of the Abandoned Vehicle Ordinance at its Wednesday, Feb. 15 meeting. Further amendments to the ordinance language are needed, the council decided. The council will also have the police department evaluate the enforceability of the draft ordinance.
The council is aware that an abandoned vehicle can be an eyesore in the neighborhood, and negatively impact property values, as pointed out by several residents who sometimes have been looking at rusting vehicles for years in their neighborhoods. However, Mayor Al Morgan is also cognizant that many municipalities that have imposed regulations regarding abandoned vehicles on private property, sometimes end up dealing with costly legal consequences. “I want to make an ordinance that we don’t have to take to court,” Morgan said.
The council discussion stalled at the definition of an abandoned vehicle. The ordinance wording defining such a vehicle as ….”has been in a stationary position for more than fourteen (14) calendar days, is inoperable or requires repairs in order to be operable..” which had caught the attention of Morgan and Councilman Michael Gennaro.
“Stationary for fourteen days – doesn’t make sense to me,” Morgan said. Others agreed that the time limit should be extended. “What if you don’t have money” to repair the vehicle? Gennaro asked. The next ordinance draft will likely have a 60 day window in place of the fourteen days.
The ordinance also defined an abandoned vehicle as “not currently being used for transportation”. Gennaro noted that some people have antique vehicles that are only driven to car shows. He asked for a better explanation to enable the interpretation of the wording. The council noted that sometimes families have a vehicle sitting on their property for a prolonged time while their college bound children are away at school.
Councilman Robert Munoz asked for clarification of the wording “…garage or other suitable enclosed building…”. He asked if for example a tent would fit in the “suitable” category. Borough resident Ray Borgersen brought this wording up during public comments. Borgersen was concerned that the wording could be interpreted so that a tarpaulin would constitute an acceptable cover.
Borough Attorney Paul Rizzo acknowledged that it is very difficult to accomplish all scenarios regarding abandoned vehicles under one ordinance. He noted that Police Chief Anthony Buccelli may want to weigh in on the ordinance wording.
Gennaro explained that the borough needs an ordinance that allows borough officials to determine when there is “enough evidence” of code violation in order to take action. “If somebody is going to challenge it – so be it.” If the police chief and borough attorney are comfortable with the language then it should be ok to adopt it, he said.