Local woman takes on city of Columbia
Tue, 19 May 2009 03:27:57 GMT —
A Midlands woman is taking on city hall saying some officials abuse their power. It looks like the law might be on her side. Carolyn Yvonne Murphy Taylor is one of many people who have had their uninsured cars tagged or towed because it's considered abandoned or derelict even when it's in their own drive way.
Last month Attorney General Henry McMaster wrote an opinion that stated Taylor is right. He said even if the vehicle meets the definition of a derelict vehicle, If the vehicle is parked on private property with the consent of the owner or with the consent of the person in control of the property, It is not subject to forfeiture.
Taylor talked exclusively with WACH FOX News about her ongoing battle.
Taylor loves spending time in her yard and not just to tend her tomato plants. She considers herself a collector of sorts and her yard is her showroom.
"I collect a lot of antiques," says Taylor.
Whether its a small plastic couch or a couple of old vans Taylor displays her treasures inside her fenced-in yard. Something she's been fighting the City of Columbia about for several years. The latest round started when one of her vans was tagged as an abandoned/derelict vehicle; meaning the city would tow and keep it until it was registered and insured. Taylor says that's not right.
"If you read the laws, it lets you know the truth. They don't have any authority to do that," says Taylor.
Taylor says she wrecked her Chevy van years ago but doesn't have the money to fix it; and she doesn't want to get rid of it. Since the van is currently not able to be driven, Taylor doesn't want to pay for registration and insurance. She doesn't live in a community with a neighborhood association. So Taylor says her right to privacy protects her vans.
"I have a major concern. City of Columbia has no right to do what they're doing," says Taylor.
But it's not just happening to Taylor. Just this month the city has tagged or towed more than 70 vehicles in Taylor's community. Arthur Dukes' car was taken nearly two months ago.
Dukes says, "It's not right to come in your private property and take your cars. If on the side of the highway that's one thing but not on private property."
Taylor says too many people are losing out. So she met with Mayor Bob Coble.
He says, "The number one complaint we get is abandoned cars."
Mayor Coble says the city has the right to keep communities free of things that are deemed nuisances. That still doesn't satisfy Taylor.
She says, "If citizens have to live by the law, the city has a responsibility. They can't go and exceed their authority."
Mayor Bob Coble is still reviewing all of Taylors suggestions and criticisms. She's not waiting on what he decides.
Taylor went to a Code Enforcement Task Force meeting Monday afternoon. They decided under the current advisement the city will not tow any more vehicles. Director Marc Mylott says people with vehicles that aren't insured or registered could face a fine or jail time.
Despite Monday's outcome, Taylor says she plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against the city.