What is a Snow Event?
A snow or ice event includes snow, sleet, frozen rain, blowing snow, hail or other precipitation—as publicly declared by a designated city official. The City’s activation of the parking-ban lights is based on street conditions and will presumably, but not in all cases, provide additional public notice of a snow or ice event. Total accumulation is a factor, but the City also takes into account the amount of snow already on the street prior to the storm, and whether another storm is forecast in close proximity to a snow event. The City’s primary concern is safe passage on streets and sidewalks, as well as parking needs in neighborhoods with limited off-street parking.
Who is Responsible for Snow Removal?
Owners of property that borders a sidewalk are responsible for removing snow/ice within 24 hours of the end of the snow event, as announced on the City website.
The City is responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks which abut City owned property. Also, if, as a result of plowing the street, there is more than 12 inches of snow piled up on a sidewalk that has no median between the walkway and the street, the City is responsible for removing that snow. However, the owner will remain responsible for maintenance after removal. If unable to remove snow/ice with a hand operated device, please make sure the sidewalk is covered by a substance to prevent slippery conditions.
In rental properties, the property owner is ultimately responsible for snow removal.
Snow Removal Enforcement
If the snow has not been removed within 24 hours of public notice of the end of the snow emergency, City employees may remove the snow at the expense of the property owner, and a removal fee will be imposed. Once a snowfall or a snow emergency ends, city code 233-32 gives property owners 24 hours to clear the width of their sidewalks so that all sidewalk users can safely navigate the city. In addition to the removal fee, a property owner may also receive a fine for a violation of the City Code.
The police and code enforcement departments have been working together to identify properties that consistently fail to do their part in keeping sidewalks clear for residents and especially the disabled who have a hard time navigating in snow.
There is a waiver and appeal process so that if a removal fee or fine is imposed, and a resident feels the removal fee or fine was imposed in error, they may pursue an appeal process. This appeal process can be completed by sending a written appeal to the Public Safety Committee of the Common Council. This appeal form is available from the Building Inspectors office or can be accessed from the city website.