Sept. 9 2010 12:00 AM

The snow and ice removal ordinance is voted out of committee after roughly 2 years; City Council votes Thursday for a public hearing

    This story was corrected Sept. 9.

    It took about
    three hours in the 10th floor City Hall Council Chambers, but lo and
    behold, a proposed snow and ice removal ordinance will likely get a
    public hearing this month. The ordinance would allow the city to clear
    public sidewalks and add the cost to a property owner’s taxes if it
    isn’t paid within 30 days.

    The Public Services
    Committee met today to amend the snow ordinance and voted 2-0 to have
    City Council set a public hearing on it (First Ward City Councilman and
    committee chair Eric Hewitt did not vote).

    The Council will vote Thursday afternoon on scheduling a Sept. 20 public hearing on the ordinance.

    City Attorney’s Office will rewrite the draft ordinance after inserting
    changes approved today. It is the ordinance’s eighth version. The new
    draft will look a lot like draft five, which was originally approved in
    March 2009.

    The Public Service Department will have to both post
    and mail a notice requiring a property owner to clean sidewalks.
    Instead of being deemed received 24 hours after being sent out, the
    mail will be deemed received two delivery days after being sent out.
    Property owners will then have 24 hours to remove the snow or ice.

    Public Service Department will also have the authority to make its own
    set of enforcement rules, like limiting allowable snow depth and
    notification times. The “sunset clause” is still part of the
    ordinance, meaning the ordinance will be up for review, but in two
    years instead of one.

    Under the ordinance, property owners will
    have 24 hours to clear snow from public sidewalks after it falls before
    the new provisions could kick in.

    Public Service Director Chad
    Gamble said upfront costs for the city to remove the snow would be
    about $116, which covers an administrative fee and 20 minutes of the
    city’s time. Property owners would be charged $45.29 for each 20
    minutes after that.

    Gamble said following today’s meeting that
    he’s just happy the ordinance is out of Committee. “Public Service is
    ready to enforce this. Hopefully it gets snow legs,” Gamble said,
    meaning he hopes the Council approves it before winter.

    If a
    public hearing is set at Thursday’s City Council meeting, it then goes
    back to the City Council to “amend, pass or kill,” City Attorney Brig
    Smith said, once the public’s comments are considered.

    Hewitt had
    last proposed giving property owners more time before the city could
    clear their sidewalks. But the committee opted to bypass those and
    consider earlier draft for mark-up purposes.

    whatever work Hewitt has done amending the ordinance on his own time
    “will be nixed,” At-Large Councilman Brian Jeffries said.