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McHenry County board postpones towing decision
By Charles Keeshan | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/16/2008 12:16 AM

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A measure that would allow Illinois authorities to regulate some towing operations came under fire from some McHenry County Board members and a local business owner as an unnecessary government intrusion.

But supporters of the plan, which would put the Illinois Commerce Commission in position to oversee companies that remove and store vehicles improperly parked on private property, say it's needed to prevent towing "predators" from charging vehicle owners hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to get their vehicle returned.

The split led the board to postpone a scheduled vote on the proposal Tuesday night until at least Feb. 19 to give its members more time to review the plan and its consequences.

The proposal would allow the state to license companies that tow vehicles from private property and limit how much they can charge for removal and storage of those vehicles.

One of its chief proponents, county board member Nick Provenzano, said it would prevent unscrupulous towing companies from charging excessive fees to vehicle owners who have little choice but to pay them.

"I understand there are a lot of honest businesses out there, but there are also predators," Provenzano said. "Right now, it's a free-for-all."

But one towing company owner said Tuesday the measure, if approved, would cost his company more than $1,350 in licensing costs right away, require him to spend more than $2,000 on new signs and force him to lower his rates nearly 20 percent.

"I'm certainly not in favor of anyone, including the Illinois Commerce Commission, telling me how much my services are worth," said Daniel Hunt, of Crystal-Lake based Anchor Towing. "It will put a clear hardship on my business."

The changes proposed by the measure initially would apply only to tows that take place in unincorporated McHenry County. However, if passed, the measure would clear the way for county municipalities to enact similar resolutions within their borders.