City council hears proposal for increase in wrecker fees and update on Unified Development Ordinance

Published 11:00 am Friday, January 14, 2022

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The LaGrange City Council met on Tuesday night and held a first reading for a proposal from the LaGrange Police Department on behalf of the Towing Association regarding wrecker fees.

The council also held a first reading and public hearing on adjusting the Unified Development Ordinance text amendments to fix technical issues in the document and increase flexibility for developers. The UDO serves multiple purposes for the city including protecting the environmental integrity of the city and encouraging the most appropriate use for land, buildings and structures.

The second reading and vote on these two issues will occur at the next council meeting on Jan. 25.

Chief Lou Dekmar and Lieutenant Marshall McCoy first brought the proposal about wrecker fees to council during Tuesday’s work session. LPD consulted the towing companies they contract for wrecks and created a report to outline why an increase in fees is needed.

The increase would include charging an additional $25 to the tow fee and additional $5 for the storage fee.

The LPD used the Consumer Price Index to assess how much of an adjustment to make to the existing ordinance.

McCoy said the wrecker services are used when LPD must help citizens who do not have someone who can come get their car or for anyone needing a tow who doesn’t have a preferred towing company.

“There’s a list, we don’t have the list. 911 maintains it. We just tell 911, ‘could you send our next list wrecker?’ Then, they pull up who it is, call them, and they come get the car,” McCoy said. “Basically what this does is the wrecker company can only charge so much to get that car back.”

McCoy said the decision to raise the fees ultimately lies in the hands of the council.

“The council has the ability to do whatever they would like,” McCoy said. “The Towing Association did ask for a little bit more than what we asked for. In the end, it will rest with our city council [and] what they decide.”

The planning commission unanimously recommended their changes to the UDO amendments which were first read at Tuesday’s meeting. There was a call for a public hearing and the changes will be visited on next meeting.

Mayor Jim Thornton said the updates will provide some clarity and create flexibility for developers and home owners.

“They’re doing some cleanup because they found some issues that needed to be addressed that were just technical in nature,” Thornton said.

“Then, the Planning Commission also recommended that we adjust some of the requirements in the UDO to provide more flexibility for developers and home builders.”

Katie Van Schoor, the marketing and communications manager for City of Lagrange, ended the meeting with some good news from the LaGrange community. She highlighted both the LaGrange Fire Department and LPD.

“LaGrange Fire Department officially completed its first paramedic class. They started the program in August of 2020 with 10 students that all ten passed the program. They now have to pass a few more tests to get their certification,” Van Schoor said.

“The LaGrange Police Department is proud to report the hiring of four police officers who started in either the LPD Cadet or Explorer programs.”