Council tables amendment to sidewalk shoveling ordinanceThe amendment would have replaced a phrase saying the requirement applies to “the sidewalk in front” a property with one saying it applies to sidewalks “adjacent” to a lot.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
The Hudson City Council on Monday, Dec. 3, voted 3-2 to table a proposed amendment to an ordinance that requires property owners to keep their sidewalks cleared of snow.
The amendment would have replaced a phrase saying the requirement applies to “the sidewalk in front” a property with one saying it applies to sidewalks “adjacent” to a lot.
Public Works and Parks Director Tom Zeuli and the council’s Public Works Committee had recommended the amendment.
Zeuli said it was needed to clarify the city’s expectations of property owners. It also would allow better enforcement of the ordinance, he said.
He said there are a number of corner lots in the downtown that have sidewalks on two streets. Under the present ordinance, the property owner is required to clear snow from only the sidewalk in front of the home or business.
The amendment would have allowed the city to bill a property owner for clearing snow from an adjacent sidewalk if the property owner didn’t do it.
The current ordinance says “the city shall cause the snow or ice to be removed” or “sprinkled with a nonskid material” if the property owner fails to do it. But it applies to only the front sidewalk.
The property owner is billed for the snow or ice removal if the city handles it. If the bill isn’t paid within 30 days, the charge is added to the owner’s real estate tax bill, along with 12 percent interest on the unpaid balance.
The amendment also would have allowed the City Council, upon a recommendation from the Public Works Committee, to exempt some sidewalks from the snow-clearing requirement.
Zeuli said he occasionally is asked why the Public Works Department plows some sidewalks, but not others.
In the last three to four years, the Public Works Department has been eliminating the grass-mowing and snow-plowing of private properties, Zeuli said.
He said that in some cases the city crew was mowing or plowing an area out of habit.
The Public Works Committee recommended that the city continue to clear snow from four stretches of sidewalk or pathway, even though they are adjacent to private property:
--Coulee Road sidewalk, from Second to 11th streets;
--Vine Street sidewalk, from roughly 10th to 12th streets;
--Baer Road sidewalk, from St. Croix Street to Boulder Court; and
--The 13th Street trail between Wisconsin Street and Laurel Avenue.
Those sections of sidewalk and pathway aren’t immediately adjacent to a home or business.
At the previous City Council meeting, a question was raised about whether the Carmelite nuns in the monastery at the top of the Third Street hill would be required to shovel the sidewalk on Coulee Road. The sidewalk is at the back of the monastery property.
Alderperson Mary Yacoub moved to table the proposed amendment indefinitely.
“I still have a problem with this change. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” she said.
Alderperson Randy Morrissette II seconded the motion. He agreed with Yacoub that the amendment addressed a situation that wasn’t a problem.
Morrissette is a member of the Public Works Committee. According to a council issue sheet, he seconded a motion in the committee to recommend amending the snow and ice removal ordinance.
Alderpersons John Hoggatt and Kurt TeWinkel supported the amendment.
Hoggatt said the current ordinance is ambiguous.
TeWinkel noted that Zeuli fields the questions from property owners wondering why the city plows some sidewalks, but not others.
“Maybe it is a problem,” said TeWinkel, also a member of the three-person Public Works Committee.
Council President Rich Vanselow and Alderperson Lori Bernard, chair of the Public Works Committee, were absent.
Mayor Alan Burchill broke the tie and voted with Yacoub and Morrissette to table the amendment after the council was deadlocked 2-2 on the question.
In other action, the council:
--Approved a taxicab license for Rite Ride, a service being started by Ryan Humphrey of River Falls. Humphrey said he will focus on providing small groups with rides to and from local restaurants and nightclubs. He’ll begin the service with a Ford Econoline van.
--Approved Hudson Ford’s low bid of $21,000 each on the purchase of two 2013 sedan Police Interceptor squads for the police department.
--Renewed the contract with the Animal Humane Society of Woodbury, Minn., for impound housing of stray animals in 2013.
--Approved the Hudson Crusaders hockey team’s applications for temporary licenses to serve beer at five games, and the Hudson Hockey Association’s application to serve beer at the annual alumni hockey games on Dec. 23. The games will all take place at the Hudson Sports & Civic Center at 1820 Hanley Road.
--Approved a $2.16 million budget for the sewer utility in 2013.