2017-09-07 / News

Roscommon Township denies reimbursement for towed car

A man who parked his vehicle in the Roscommon Township parking lot and was not able to immediately retrieve it was denied a refund by the Roscommon Township Board Tuesday for his towing bill.

Allen Belanger, who said he is not a resident of the township, but works for a local paving company and lives in Roscommon County, said he parked his 2002 Cavalier the morning of July 17 to meet with someone (who suggested he park there) to go to work in Clare County.

Belanger explained he intended to retrieve his car that night, but due to a truck breakdown and the need to drop off equipment in Standish, it was too late to get it that night. He said it made more sense to get a ride the next night, but when he returned he found his car was gone.

After calling around, he discovered Phil’s Towing had his vehicle and he was billed $186. He said the car was left in the parking lot for 29 hours and appealed to the board to get his money back, arguing that there are no “no parking” signs in the lot.

Supervisor Diane Randall said she recognized the car as an abandoned vehicle.

She said on most nights, the park is filled with kids, ball players and spectators and that an abandoned vehicle these days “is something to watch for” and referenced a case in another village park in which a mobile meth lab was discovered.

“Had you called, had you left a note, we wouldn’t be having this discussion,” she said.

She said Michigan law says that an abandoned vehicle is one that is apparently inoperable – which to her it was, she said – on public or private property and is more than seven years old titled in the State of Michigan. She said it would be understandable if someone had called the township.

Trustee Rob Christian asked if the vehicle had been tagged and it had not been. Randall said in a previous incident involving a snowmobile trailer, she was told by the State Police she did not need to call them, just have it towed.

Christian said he used to tow vehicles for law enforcement and that a vehicle owner would receive notice and be given a chance to remove it.

“It seems like a matter of procedure to me,” he said.

Randall said it is the correct procedure for a police agency and Christian suggested a law enforcement agency be contacted so an orange tag could be placed on a vehicle to give the owner sufficient time to remove it after 24 hours.

Belanger said no law enforcement agency was contacted.

Christian said he understands Randall’s safety concerns and Randall asked if a policy is needed.

Clerk Carie Milburn said there is a remedy available through court to dispute the towing charge. She said the township is not a police agency under the law and it has a right to tow a vehicle. She said the situation was “a learning experience for all of us” and that the situation may push the board to create a policy, based on safety concerns for children in the park.

“And without a phone call, you just don’t know,” Milburn said.

No motion was made to reimburse Belanger.

Randall thanked him and apologized for his inconvenience.

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