Newport -

Several car owners had their cars towed from a school function in Carteret County by neighbors who are upset their street is being used as a parking lot.

An open house was held Thursday night at Broad Creek Middle School for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. School officials said the event attracted about 600 people. All of the cars couldn't fit in the parking lot. They had to park on nearby Alston Avenue. The street has two no parking signs on it that face away from incoming traffic, but are on the west side of the road.

People at the school and those living in the neighborhood said the street filled up quickly and that it was chaotic. Those living in the neighborhood say they have been dealing with parking problems in the area for a long time.

"I'd say about 20 cars were parked along the other side of the street," Natalie Newton said. Newton's family is new to the area. This was their first time at Broad Creek Middle. Her car was towed by Wrance Wrecker.

Neighbors living on the street say someone living nearby called a tow company to have cars removed from Alston Avenue. We spoke with the Sheriff's Office and were told they weren't responsible for the towing. However, a person living in the neighborhood said a deputy advised another neighbor to call the tow company.

However, Alston Avenue is a state maintained road. In the case the road wasn't state maintained, property owners could have cars towed off the street. However, in this case, the cars on Alston Avenue shouldn't have been removed. That's on the authority of the State Highway Patrol.

Troopers said they usually don't tow someone for 24 hours, even if they are in a no parking zone. It would be appropriate to ticket people parking in no parking areas. The exception being if the vehicles are impeding traffic or blocking the roadway.

Wrance Wrecker did not respond to requests for comment.

Officials with the Careteret County School System said the towing could've been avoided if homeowners had contacted them about the problem. One person we spoke with said the school has known of parking problems for years.

In the future, Broad Creek Middle School will stagger open houses by grade to alleviate parking issues.