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Abandoned and Junk Vehicles in Emmetsburg

September 21, 2017
Emmetsburg News

As a continuation of the series of articles on the Emmetsburg Code of Ordinances, today's ordinances discuss junk and junk vehicles as well as abandoned vehicles.

Chapter 51 of the Code of Ordinances addresses Junk and Junk Vehicles. For the purpose of this ordinance, junk is defined as "all old or scrap copper, brass, lead, or any other non-ferrous metal; old or discarded rope, rags, batteries, paper, trash, rubber, debris, waste or used lumber, or salvaged wood; dismantled vehicles, machinery and appliances or parts of such vehicles, machinery, or appliances; iron, steel or other old or scrap ferrous materials; old or discarded glass tin ware, plastic or old or discarded household goods or hardware."

A junk vehicle is any vehicle legally placed in storage with the County Treasurer or unlicensed and has characteristics that include: broken glass; broken, loose, or missing part, habitat for nuisance animals or insects; flammable fuel; inoperable; defective or obsolete condition.

It is illegal for any citizen to store or allow a junk vehicle to remain on any private property within Emmetsburg City Limits. Any junk vehicle that is allowed to remain on private property that constitutes a threat to the health and safety of the citizens of Emmetsburg is considered a nuisance. The person that owns the property shall be prima facie liable for the violation.

There are three exceptions to this ordinance: if the junk vehicle is stored in a garage; "the premises of a business enterprise operated in a district properly zoned therefor, when necessary to the operation of said business enterprise, as authorized under the Zoning Ordinance of the City"; or the vehicle has an appropriate storage space or depository maintained in a lawful place.

If the City should discover any junk or junk vehicle, the City shall within five days begin abatement procedures.

Chapter 80 discusses abandoned vehicles in Emmetsburg. A vehicle is considered abandoned if it has been left unattended on public property for more than 24 hours, lacks registration plates, or two or more wheels or other parts have been removed to render the vehicle inoperable; a vehicle that has remained illegally on public property for 24 hours; a vehicle that has been placed on private property without the permission of the owner for more than 24 hours; a vehicle that has been impounded and has not been reclaimed for a period of 10 days; any vehicle parked on the highway that creates hazardous traffic conditions.

A police officer shall take the custody of an abandoned vehicle on both public and private property. The police officer may employ his own personnel, equipment and facilities, or hire a private entity for the purpose of removing, storing, or disposing of the abandoned vehicle. If a private entity is employed, the officer shall provide the entity with the names and addresses of the registered owner of the vehicle.

If the police officer takes a vehicle into custody, he shall notify the owner of impoundment by certified mail within 20 days. If it is impossible to determine the owner of the vehicle, a public notice shall be made in the newspaper. The owner is responsible for all towing and storage fees of the vehicle.

Finally, if the vehicle remains unclaimed, the police department will make the decision to sell the car for use on the highway and dispose of it according to state law. The proceeds from the sale "shall be applied to the expense of auction, cost of towing, preserving, storing and notification required, in accordance with State law. Any balance shall be held for the owner of the motor vehicle or entitled lienholder for 90 day and then shall be deposited in the State Road Use Tax Fund."



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