City sidewalk ordinance or avoidance?

We welcome the arrival of spring in hopes of soon being able to experience warmer temps to melt our abundance of snow and ice.
Mar 31, 2014


In no uncertain terms, it’s been a tough winter on all us here in West Michigan. Very few of us have escaped the impact of the wrath that Old Man Winter and Mother Nature teamed up to bestow upon us.
Unfortunately, it will be some time yet before flowers begin to bloom and we can begin to embrace the beauty that spring has to offer. Instead, perhaps we can find joy in being able use the sidewalks that have been covered with snow and ice all winter long.
For much of this past winter, many sidewalks throughout our beloved city weren’t usable due to the depth of the snow that covered them.  
In case you weren’t aware of it, the City of Grand Haven has a sidewalk ordinance as it pertains to snow removal. To paraphrase, it says that property owners within the city are responsible for keeping the sidewalk in front of their home free and clear of snow, ice and any other obstructions which will impair or impede travel. 
The ordinance continues to say that 3 or more inches of snow is enough to “impair or impede travel,” and must be removed within 12-18 hours, depending on when the snow stopped falling. 
Based on sidewalk conditions this past winter, it would appear that many property owners weren’t aware of this, didn’t care, or felt the ordinance isn’t enforceable. 
To clarify, there is a penalty for not doing so — for occupants of a property failing to comply with the ordinance, the city manager can direct city employees, or hire independent contractors, to remove the snow, at the property owner’s expense. 
It’s good to have laws and rules in order to properly manage and care for city property and its residents, but if we don’t enforce them, what good are they?
Should next winter deal us the same ugly hand, we encourage residents to abide by this ordinance or be prepared to deal with the consequences.  
If the city feels this is an unmanageable ordinance, then we would recommend coming up with an alternative to keep our sidewalks usable throughout the winter. 
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



It would be nice if it were enforced. If people don't like the rules of living in the city they can move. There are plenty of people out there in the market that will buy their house again.


As far as this winter goes, I really don't think it's people "not caring". There's was an incredible amount of snow coupled with tremendous cold. Many ran out of room to put snow and were also fighting with extreme colds where exposure was an issue. I agree that its good to have rules that keep the city nice, but obviously they were unenforceable this year. The city itself couldn't go about removing the snow "at the owner's expense", they had enough trouble keeping up with their normal duties this winter. This article sure sounds like pure complaining; where's your opinion on what actually should be done to fix the problem? Over 100 inches of snow, below zero wind chills, why weren't you out there helping the city?


So your going to cite a 75 year old grandma who has to pay for snow plowing already on a very small senior citizen income...

Or Maybe one should send the City of who ever the bill for plowing snow into my driveway or on the sidewalks after I just clear them off.

Or maybe the city should investigate who they issue over night winter street parking to .. when home owners don't park their vehicles in their garages. I thought those permits were for those who don't have driveways or rental properties.

If the city is using the melt system to clear the sidewalks downtown then they should have plenty of workers to plow the sidewalks. This certainly was not a issue when I was growing up. The population has not changed from 20 years ago. Hardly any kids walk to school today... most of these people were not here for the 1978-1978 snow storms all the 3-6 ft drifts at once.


I have to agree with many it doesn’t seem fair.
If you have the equipment or money to clear the sidewalk where do you put the snow? Sometimes on my way to work through the neighborhoods I saw snow piles so high you can hardly see the houses, trash cans are inserted into slots of snow to keep them from the plow (which doesn’t always work). I would cringe to think someone would be going around writing citations for a winter like we had.


We are going to have to support our senior citizens get help with the snow. Lets get those prisoners sitting on our dime out doing something for society for once.

Tri-cities realist

Good idea. We could look to sheriff Joe as a good example


Perhaps those who have a snow problem could borrow the rig Cargo purchased for GHT


I haven't wintered in Grand Haven for quite a few years, but I do recall at one time the City actually used to plow sidewalks. I can remember watching the small plow tractor as a kid and thinking how neat it would be to drive it. Apparently that City service is no longer provided.


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