Chapel Hill officials debate towing troubles

August 23, 2012 4:49:17 AM PDT
Chapel Hill will appeal a judge's ruling that has blocked the town's effort to crack down on what some call predatory towing.

The judge said the town doesn't have the authority to regulate trade - meaning the town is currently without rules for towing companies.

"There's no regulation," said Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt. "There's no regulation which, on its face to me, seems absurd."

The main issue for council members has been towing companies that require drivers to pay in cash to get their vehicle back, and pick them up in lots far outside of town.

George King Towing Services - which sued the town over its new restrictions and won - charges $180 to get a vehicle back.

"I think the towing operators have settled on a $175-200 range in this town, and that seems to be an appropriate charge," George King attorney Thomas Stark. "Tow trucks are fairly expensive, and you have to have a skilled driver to have them. You have to have a lot."

However, Kleinschmidt said those fees are unreasonable.

"They're saying a $125, or a $150 is not enough to charge people because they'll go out of business," said Kleinschmidt. "I think that that's kind of ridiculous."

ABC11 researched what towing companies in nearby municipalities charge. Here's what we found:

Raleigh:

  • Ace Towing: $100-$125
  • East Coast Towing Raleigh: $100-$125
  • Unlimited Recovery: $100

Durham:

  • Chandler's Towing: $195
  • S&S Towing: $185

Cary:

  • Savage Towing: $150

Also discussed at the meeting was a ban on using all cell phones while driving in Chapel Hill. It's something which tow companies said also affects their operations. A judge sided with the towing companies, but the town also plans to appeal that ruling.

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