Policy would change ordinance enforcement

September 25, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

City officials hope to set a new policy to try to keep sidewalks clean and safe following winter storms, but avoid last year's problems. The city's ordinance would not be affected by a vote scheduled for next week, but the new policy would change the way the city enforces the ordinance, lengthening the amount of time residents and property owners have to clear sidewalks.

The ordinance

· Affects all city property owners who have public sidewalks on their land.

· Requires property owners to clear their sidewalks of snow or ice. The width of the path must be either 48 inches or the width of the sidewalk, whichever is smaller.

· Fines, fees: Maximum fine is $200. If the city clears a sidewalk on private property, the cost is assessed to the property owner.

Time frame:

Within the business district: Sidewalks must be cleared within four hours after a storm unless the storm ends between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. If that is the case, sidewalks are required to be cleared by 9 a.m.


The business district is, only for the snow removal ordinance, the area surrounded by Church Street, East Avenue, and Mulberry, Baltimore and Prospect streets. Properties on either side of the street are considered to be within the business district.

Outside of the business district: Property owners have 10 hours to clear their sidewalks after precipitation ends.

The policy

· Enforcement priorities: The city will clear its sidewalks first, and then prioritize enforcement of private properties. In descending order, they are the business district; walking routes near public schools, hospitals and government offices; walking routes near mixed business and residential areas; and neighborhoods.

· Notice: If an inspector finds a property is in violation, a notice will be posted saying what day and time a contractor would return to remove snow. If snow is cleared when the contractor arrives, no fines or costs would be assessed.

· Fines, fees: If notification has been received and the sidewalk hasn't been cleared, city inspectors will have the walkway cleared. The charge will be $60 in city fees plus contractor materials and labor costs.

The first time a sidewalk is cleared, there will be no fine. The second time and thereafter, the fine will be $200 in addition to snow-clearing costs.

· Contractor: The price for labor and materials depends on the awarded contract, which has not yet been determined. City Engineer Rodney Tissue said interested contractors have until 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 to place a bid with the Engineering and Inspections Office. The contract will be selected by Nov. 1.

· Street snow plowed onto sidewalk: In such instances, according to policy, "the city will not abate (clear) and/or fine the property owner if it is reasonable to believe that the sidewalk was cleared of ice and snow" before a snowplow pushed snow back onto the sidewalk.

· Can't clear it yourself: Residents should do their best to find help, but the city will assist those who are both physically and financially unable to clear sidewalks themselves.

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