Pelham OKs snow storm towing refunds

Published 7:39 pm Monday, February 17, 2014

The Pelham City Council approved a resolution to refund towing fees for some vehicles towed during the recent winter storm. (Contributed/Ashley Williams)

The Pelham City Council approved a resolution to refund towing fees for some vehicles towed during the recent winter storm. (Contributed/Ashley Williams)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

Some locals who had their cars towed in Pelham – particularly on Shelby County 11 – during the Jan. 28 snow storm soon will have some financial relief.

During its Feb. 17 meeting, the Pelham City Council voted to provide about $4,700 to the Wheeler and Kirkland towing companies to provide refunds to locals whose vehicles were towed with city authorization on Jan. 28-30.

The Pelham Police Department authorized 39 vehicle tows during the winter storm from as a necessity to clear city roads for emergency vehicles, Pelham Police Chief Tommy Thomas said previously.

Thomas said the city only moved vehicles as necessary to allow emergency responders to navigate the roads – particularly on Shelby County 11. If the city had not authorized abandoned vehicle tows, emergency vehicles would have been unable to navigate Shelby County 11 to respond to emergency calls, Thomas said previously.

“Our legal team has gone over this, and this seems to be the most straightforward way to do it,” City Council President Rick Hayes said of the city providing funds to wrecker companies to provide refunds to those towed. “Everyone has been on board with this since the beginning. Let’s do the right thing here.”

The Pelham-funded refunds will only apply to those whose vehicles were towed with city approval in the wake of the Jan. 28 storm.

On Jan. 30, Pelham police officers reported a Hoover-based wrecker company was towing vehicles stranded on Pelham roads without the police department’s authorization.

Those who had cars towed on Jan. 29-30 – especially in northern Pelham – should call the Pelham Police Department at 620-6550, the Hoover Police Department at 444-7700 or Action Towing at 235-5755 to ensure the tows were authorized by the city, Pelham deputy Police Chief Larry Palmer said previously.

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said the city is working to revamp its towing ordinance to allow changes should the city have to authorize tows in the future.

Waters said he would like to enforce a predetermined towing fee in times of emergency, and said the city will establish a north and south towing lots for use during emergency situations: One at the Pelham Civic Complex and another at Fungo Holler Park.

“Instead of having companies tow to their impound lots, they would instead tow them to either the north or the south lot,” Waters said. “I think the frequency of tows in the future will be a lot lower.

“This ($4,700) is a small price to pay for a better system,” Waters said.