Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Unregulated towing talk of the town in Chapel Hill

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CHAPEL HILL -- They're on the walls, the ground, even the dumpsters, and while they may not be popular towing signs are in nearly every private lot in Chapel Hill.

"I couldn't find parking so I parked here where there's all these tow signs and I wasn't even expecting my car to be here when I got back," said driver Disha Gandhi.

A town council ordinance was put in place forcing companies to charge a flat fee, accept credit cards and tow within 15 miles of the town limits.

"It comes about in response to citizen concerns, visitor concerns about practices that are not conducive to parking in downtown," said Catherine Lazorko, Public Information Officer for the town of Chapel Hill

But George's Towing and Recovery complained the ordinance was unconstitutional. A judge agreed, leaving the town without towing regulations.

"They didn't ask what the expenses were. All the stuff that concurs along with your business, is what determines what your price actually is,” George King said.

But numerous complaints and e-mails have been filed against George and other towing businesses, claiming they've forced drivers to pay high cash fees and sat by waiting to tow their car.

King said he keeps up with market prices, charging between $150 and $250 depending on the weight.

"To also meet my expenses and so forth going out on my equipment,” King said.

He also said they use video surveillance systems to ensure the right cars are towed quickly, leaving spots for paying customers.

"If a police officer is sitting there on the corner and sees you running a traffic sign, does he wait any length of time to go get you, absolutely not,” King added.

But no matter your stance on the debate, the safest way to avoid getting towed is to pay to park in a public lot.

The town council is looking to hold a special meeting in the coming weeks to discuss potentially issuing a revised ordinance. Read more about it here.

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