Councilman's push to repeal Chapel Hill cell phone ban fails

tgrubb@newsobserver.comJanuary 17, 2013 

— A push by Town Council member Matt Czajkowski to repeal the town’s contested ban on cell phone use while driving failed this week in a 5-2 vote.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson voided the town’s cell phone use ban and its towing regulations in August when he sided with a civil lawsuit filed by George’s Towing.

The town has appealed the case to the N.C. Court of Appeals.

“As we all know, we have no shortage of lawsuits,” Czajkowski told council members Monday night. “In fact, I think I read … we’ve actually hired outside counsel to help us with one of these, because the time demands have reached a point where we need some help.”

He and council member Laurin Easthom voted to repeal repealing the cell phone ordinance, which bans both hand-held and hands-free calls while driving, except in limited cases. Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos has said it may be the strictest ban in the nation.

However, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and council members Jim Ward, Lee Storrow, Donna Bell and Ed Harrison rejected Czajkowski’s motion.

Flora Parrish, the Chapel Hill Police Department records supervisor, said the town continues to get complaints about towing every day. She got three Tuesday, she said.

Most are complaining about George’s Towing, and usually about the high cost of being towed, Parrish said. George’s Towing charges $90 for a car that is hooked up to the tow truck but hasn’t left the parking lot. It costs $180 to retrieve a towed car.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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