The Town of Plattekill is considering a new law that will establish a fair and uniform procedure for the towing of vehicles within the town.
At the board’s July 21 meeting, Supervisor Joseph Croce unveiled an 11-page draft of a new towing law that was written by Town Attorney Paul Kellar.
“This is a work in progress,” Croce said, noting that the proposed law would need to be presented at a public hearing before the board could approve it. “We need to act on this at some point.”
Croce said the town currently doesn’t have a towing law on the books.
“Up until this point, if a car needs to be towed the officer contacts the Sheriff’s Department who is in charge of keeping track of the (towing) rotation,” Croce explained. “At this point in time, we’re using two towing outfits that are here in the Town of Plattekill. It’s been brought to our attention that legally we can not exclude towing companies from outside the town. We never had a law. That was the town’s practice. It worked very well.”
Croce said recently, however, the town has gotten requests from towing companies outside of the Town of Plattekill who want to be included in the towing rotation.
Police Chief Joseph Ryan suggested that the new ordinance include companies outside of the town as long as they can arrive at the scene of an accident within 25 minutes of being notified that a car needs to be towed.
“I think 25 minutes is a reasonable time to respond,” Ryan said. “I think most agencies operate under the 25-minute rule.”
Councilman Dean DePew agreed that tow companies should be given no more than 25 minutes to respond to accidents due to safety concerns.
“You have the potential of 25 volunteers responding (to an accident),” DePew said. “These are people who give up their time. Not only is it hard to find somebody to do that, but it’s dangerous to be on the road. Directing traffic and getting the people by.”
Ryan said that the town must abide by federal regulations that “makes it clear we can’t arbitrarily prevent somebody from outside the town from being on the tow list.”
Currently, Modena Collision and Potter’s Collision and Towing are the two businesses that handle the towing in the Town of Plattekill.
Though Ryan agreed that the town would need to include towing companies outside of the town on the list to comply with the federal regulations, he said it wouldn’t make sense to add too many due to the limited number of tows required each year.
“I spoke to some of the tow companies around here and they said they really don’t get a lot of tows,” Ryan said. “They get called off the list up to 10 times a year. Adding tow companies (to the list) obviously is going to decrease the profits for those companies in the town. But we can’t arbitrarily make a decision based solely on that.”
“I like the idea of limiting, and we can do this, how many towing companies are going to be on the towing list,” Croce said. “Because it doesn’t make sense to put 10 towing companies on the list. It’s not worth their while.”
Ryan said the law should also require towing companies to maintain impound lots in the town. If there’s a serious accident, Ryan said vehicles need to be impounded so thorough investigations can be conducted by the town police.
“I think it’s a necessity,” Ryan said. “I’ve spoken to police chiefs in several towns and they do require that if you want to be on the tow list you will have at least a lot within the jurisdiction of that town.”
Croce asked Ryan to come back to the board with a recommendation on the number of companies that should be on the rotating list after researching the average number of tows in the town annually.
In other news, Ryan said he would like to add four new part-time officers due to losing personnel to resignations, injuries and maternity leave. He said he has a number of officers who are coming very close to exceeding the number of hours they can work in a year. Ryan said he usually needs to fill vacancies two or three times a year.
The board scheduled two additional meetings at 7 p.m. on Aug. 11 and 25 at the town hall to discuss the proposed community center at Thomas Felten Park. The board and the town’s park expansion committee will review plans for the community center at the meetings.
The project has been stalled due to the pandemic, but town officials are hopeful it will move forward after finalizing construction plans and securing funding through grants.
Town residents completed a survey about their wishes for a community center several years ago and the workshops will be another opportunity for the public to offer suggestions.