City sidewalk ordinance or avoidance?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.