Rick Poppitz
Special To The Gardner News
Jeannie Koontz, city clerk, presented staff recommendation to adopt an ordinance amending snow and ice removal regulations.
The ordinance would add regulation regarding snow and ice removal from private property. Property owners are expected to remove snow and ice from the entire width of sidewalks on their property within 48 hours.
Property owners who refuse could be cited with a $25 fine for the first offense, $50 for the second and $75 for subsequent offenses.
Rich Melton, council member, noted that people such as himself, who worked out of town for days at a time, might not be around to do it within 48 hours.
He also said sometimes the city can’t get all the snow removed from their things in 48 hours, and it would be ironic to be fining for something they couldn’t do themselves.
Melton also said he saw it as a private property rights issue.
“I have a real problem forcing people to do stuff on their own property. The sidewalks are in front of my house, I didn’t even want them… city made me put them in, and they’re mine if they fall apart. Now I’m going to be fined if I don’t go clean them,” said Melton.
Kristy Harrison, council member, said it was a safety concern for kids walking to school who were forced to walk in the street. She also said she didn’t know of many people who didn’t remove snow from their sidewalks.
Steve Shute, council president, added that about one third of Gardner residents were elderly or disabled and access to sidewalks was crucial to them.
Melton replied that the elderly and disabled would likely be among those who couldn’t get their sidewalks cleared within 48 hours.
Shute and Chris Morrow, mayor indicated exceptions could be made in such cases and hopefully efforts could be made to assist those people.
Shute said the ordinance was prompted by “chronic offenders that are businesses or own vacant lots downtown in areas of high traffic.” He said some have refused to remove snow for a long time, and this creates hazards for pedestrians.
Council voted 3-1 to adopt Ordinance No. 2534, with Melton casting the no vote. Lee Moore, councilmember, was absent.