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Sidewalk snow ‘a public safety issue’

Mitchell's City Council is pushing for cleaner sidewalks in 2016. About a month after the council requested more information on sidewalk snow removal from Code Enforcement Officer Wade London, information was presented by London that showed the c...

Mitchell’s City Council is pushing for cleaner sidewalks in 2016.

About a month after the council requested more information on sidewalk snow removal from Code Enforcement Officer Wade London, information was presented by London that showed the city has charged 51 property owners a total of $6,740 for snow removal since the first snowfall on Nov. 23.

The city’s existing snow removal policy states snow must be removed from sidewalks 15 hours after snowfall or ice formation. If the snow or ice persists 24 hours after property owners receive notice from the Public Works Department, they are charged a minimum of $75 for the first 50 feet of sidewalk plus an additional $1 per foot after that. A door hanger is then left at the property to inform the owner.

London said 413 properties have been tagged since the first snowfall, but they have either been cleaned before being assessed the charge or more snow had fallen since the tag was issued. According to London, the city offers property owners more time to shovel their sidewalks if there is additional snowfall.

Prior to Monday night’s regular council meeting, London informed the eight-person board that he received six complaints for failure to shovel sidewalks this winter. But Councilman Mel Olson said he’s seen far more than six addresses in need of attention.

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“Well, I don’t want you to hang your hat on the fact that there’s only six complaints, because every time there’s a snow, I get numerous complaints,” Olson said Monday.

Olson said the snowy sidewalks force pedestrians to walk or run on the street, which he said is a pet peeve of his considering the council’s efforts to have sidewalks installed throughout the city. He said the snowy walkways also are dangerous for children and disabled residents in his neighborhood.

“This is a thing that bothers me to no end,” Olson said. “It is a public safety issue.”

According to the National Weather Service, Mitchell received 34.3 inches of snow prior to Tuesday’s storm. With so much snow, compared to 21.7 inches by Feb. 1 in 2015, some council members have noticed areas going untouched by the code enforcement office or property owners.

Councilwoman Bev Robinson mentioned the corner of East Havens Avenue and South Burr Street as a problem area, and Councilman Steve Rice wondered why the code enforcement office failed to clear the snow on Main Street in front of the former Jitters coffeeshop building, which is owned by the city. London said the failure to clear those sidewalks could be solved through increased communication between city officials and employees.

Councilman Jeff Smith urged his fellow council members to contact London when they see areas in need of snow removal. Olson said he could find plenty of locations requiring snow removal following the next storm.

“I think if I had a free day I could give you a hundred addresses, at least, of people who aren’t cleaning the entire sidewalk,” Olson said.

But London’s office has made progress in its search for code violators this year. After receiving a recommendation from Olson, London asked Mitchell postal workers to provide the city with addresses in violation of the snow removal code. London said the U.S. Post Office has since called the city twice with approximately five or six addresses that have not removed the snow on their sidewalks.

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Mitchell property owners and renters are also made aware of the snow removal code several times throughout the winter. London said the city publishes the code twice in The Daily Republic, which is once more than required, and he always adds it to people’s water bills.

Related Topics: WEATHER
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