If a new ordinance is approved by Archbold Village Council, failing to remove snow from your sidewalk will be a misdemeanor offense.
Council held a first reading on the ordinance at its Monday, April 18 meeting.
Kevin Eicher, a councilman, said he was willing to pass the ordinance through a process known as suspending the rules, which, in fact, is how council does most of its business.
But other councilmen suggested the issue be read at three separate council meetings to allow the public time to give feedback on the issue.
Vaughn Bentz, a councilman, pointed out the village had been criticized in the past for plowing shut sidewalks at intersections when clearing snow from roadways.
He said village workers need to keep the sidewalks open.
But Dennis Howell, village administrator, said after a snowstorm, the first priority is to keep the streets open.
Street crews may not get to sidewalks at intersections for three, four, or five days.
“That’s the nature of the beast,” he said.
Jeff Fryman, mayor, said the issue of creating a snow removal ordinance has been discussed by the streets and sidewalks committee.
The ordinance, as recommended by the group, states, “Owners or occupants of abutting lands shall keep the sidewalks in repair and free from snow, ice, or any nuisance.
“Owners or occupants shall have 48 hours after cessation of snow or ice storm that causes accumulation, to remove same from the sidewalks abutting their lands.”
Bentz said council talked about having conversations with the Archbold Ministerial Association to find resources for elderly homeowners who can’t physically remove snow, and those who live out of town during the winter months.
Donna Dettling, assistant village administrator, said it will be up to the police department to enforce the ordinance.
Those in violation of the ordinance can be issued a citation, with a maximum fine of $500.
She said enforcement of the ordinance will not be “heavy handed.” Police officers will be willing to work with people to make sure they are fully advised of the requirements of the ordinance.
But, she added, “There is always that one or two percent that never will comply.”
For them, a citation is the only answer.
Currently, under Archbold village ordinances, if people fail to mow their lawn, the village will do the work and bill the property owner via the water bill.
Could a similar system be established for snow removal?
Dettling said such a policy had not been discussed and that she would have to speak to Mark Hagans, village legal counsel, about the issue.
She said there is flexibility built into the ordinance, and that some of it will be “learn as you go” for village officials.
Archbold has never had a snow removal ordinance in the past.
Dettling said several other communities she is familiar with have had such ordinances.– David Pugh