Mayor Kleinschmidt: Court Of Appeals Made Right The Call

CHAPEL HILL – In King versus Town of Chapel Hill, the state court of appeals has overturned a ruling by the superior court that a ban on towing practices in Chapel Hill was unconstitutional.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt says the decision is an important ruling for towns who want to protect their citizens.

“About a year ago, there was a N.C. Supreme Court decision that came down that seemed to limit the power of local government to do what we had thought were obvious things,” Mayor Kleinschmidt said. “It brings us all a little more comfort that local government has a little bit more authority than we had thought last year.”

The court of appeals also ruled that it will not make a decision regarding the ban on driving while using a phone – a ban the lower courts ruled unconstitutional. Instead, the court asked for future plaintiffs to bring the case forward again for further review.

In addition to the city’s ability to regulate towing, Mayor Kleinschmidt also affirms the authority of other state bodies to make policy.

“When the board of trustees decides its in the best interests of students to be able to provide for gender-neutral housing and they make a case for how it has the potential to protect students here at UNC-Chapel Hill then I think we should be able to trust that this decision, made at a local level, that that’s the best place for these decision to be made,” Mayor Kleinschmidt said.

Mayor Kleinschmidt criticizes the General Assembly for banning the gender neutral housing policy put into place by UNC’s board of trustees, a board indirectly appointed by voters.

“Unfortunately, this legislature, not withstanding a lot of their rhetoric over local control over issues, is inserting itself in places where, I think most folks would agree, they don’t belong,” Mayor Kleinschmidt said.

Looking between the legislature’s criticisms of regulations put into place by cities and the legislature’s own counter to UNC’s housing policy, Mayor Kleinschmidt says he sees two different messages being sent out by the representatives.

“It would be nice if the General Assembly were to have a consistent position around local control and respect those who are in the best position to make decisions,” Mayor Kleinschmidt said. “But I don’t think we’re going to get that any time soon with this legislature.”

The new ordinances on towing and phone use are set to take effect June 24th and will be discussed at a public hearing Monday.

Chapel Hill Towing Ordinance Receives Court Of Appeals Hearing Monday

CHAPEL HILL – The issue of towing is once again back in the spotlight in Chapel Hill as George’s Towing will appear before the State Court of Appeals Monday in regards to a town towing ordinance.

According to the News and Observer, George’s Towing will appear before a three-judge panel to express that the Town overstepped its authority last year.

The ordinance in question was enacted in response to complaints about predatory towing in downtown Chapel Hill. Residents and visitors alike complained that in many lots, there weren’t enough clear signs indicating where it was and wasn’t acceptable to park—and that when they were towed, they were forced to find transportation to a distant lot, nowhere near an ATM, to find that the operators would only release their cars if they paid in cash.

Most of the complaints centered around the one company, George’s Towing, owned by George King—and it was King who filed suit against the Town when it enacted the ordinance.

In August, Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson issued a sweeping ruling, striking down not only the towing ordinance, but the controversial first-in-the-nation cell-phone driving ban.

The Town Council voted to appeal the ruling which forced Monday’s hearing.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt as well as the Town’s attorney Ralph Karpinos will be in attendance. Karpinos will be delivering the argument on behalf of the Town.

The three-judge court of appeals panel will rule on Monday whether or not the Town was within its legal boundaries when creating the ordinance.