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Hagerstown passes towing ordinance

Nigh says regulations are aimed at stopping companies from overcharging people who park illegally

Nigh says regulations are aimed at stopping companies from overcharging people who park illegally

May 21, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday voted 4-0 to pass an ordinance that will govern the way tow-truck companies do business within city limits.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer, who is on vacation, did not vote.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said after the council meeting that tow-truck companies are taking advantage of people who illegally park downtown by charging up to $250 to tow a vehicle.

Nigh was referring to events that were held recently at The Maryland Theatre in which people who parked in private parking lots were charged up to $250 in cash to have their vehicles returned. Because the events didn't let out until late at night, many people couldn't come up with the cash and had to wait until the next day to recover their vehicles.

In addition to charging high prices, some tow-truck companies were employing spotters - or people who look for illegally parked vehicles - to drum up business, Nigh said.

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Among other things, the ordinance will require tow-truck companies to do the following:

· Refrain from employing spotters.

· Provide the owner of a towed vehicle access to that vehicle within 30 minutes of being contacted between 6 a.m. and midnight, or within 45 minutes if contacted any other time.

· Set fees that are in line within city guidelines.

Although the ordinance does not specify the fee, Police Chief Arthur Smith said last month that the maximum amount would be about $100 for tows between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and $110 thereafter. The maximum storage fee would be $25 per day, Smith said.

The ordinance will become effective June 20.

How they voted



The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday voted 4-0 to pass an ordinance governing the way tow-truck companies do business within city limits.

Martin Brubaker - Yes

Kelly S. Cromer - Absent (on vacation)

Lewis C. Metzner - Yes

Penny M. Nigh - Yes

Alesia Parson-McBean - Yes

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