Monday, June 27 — Between Oct. 1 and April 1, it cost the city $21,337.38 to clear snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to private properties in the city. And those property owners who owe the city are about to be notified.
The city issued 173 assessments for clearing snow and ice under its new ordinance, adopted in September, which charges property owners for clearing their sidewalks in the winter if they don’t do it themselves. It cost the city an average of $123.38 per property to clear snow and ice, while some properties were assessed more than once.
Property owners have 60 days to pay to avoid a lien against their property. The Council will vote tonight on scheduling a July 18 public hearing on the assessments.
Under the ordinance, once snow falls or ice forms, city residents have 24 hours to clear it. Besides using the mail, the city posts notices after that time to clear it. (The notice, which will appear in the print edition of City Pulse on Wednesday, can be downloaded here or at the bottom of the story.) Residents have 24 hours after being notified to do so. The city charges about $116 upfront for administrative fees and 20 minutes of service. Each 20 minutes after that costs about $45. After property owners are billed, they have 60 days to pay or the costs are assessed to their tax bill.
The ordinance expires July 30, 2012, under its sunset clause and can be amended or extended, or both.
The Council adopted the new ordinance 6-2 at its Sept. 27 meeting, with Council members Eric Hewitt and Carol Wood voting against it.
Of seven properties City Pulse visited over the weekend, six properties — all residential — were vacant and one was a seasonal ice cream store.
The property owner of Frosty Korner at 1701 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. was cited twice this winter for not removing snow or ice, but he didn’t know about it.
Robert Covey, who owns the property but started leasing it to an engaged couple in April, said he never received notification by mail. Covey’s previous address in Haslett is listed on the city’s property database under “owner information.” However, Covey said he hasn’t lived there in four years.
Covey spends his winters in Florida and says neighbors of the ice cream store have traditionally shoveled the sidewalks for him. But it’s “nobody in particular. I didn’t ever do that because I never had a problem with the city before.”
But Covey said if there was a problem, the city should have notified him personally.
“Nothing would surprise me with the city,” he said. “They tell you they sent this and you got it, well, no, I didn’t.”
Shawn Mulroy, co-owner of Frosty Korner, started leasing the building in April. She said while the store will be closed during the winter, she’ll make sure the sidewalks are cleared.
“I understand (that the city) doesn't want people walking around and breaking their neck, but I can hire someone,” she said.
On the north side of the city, a neighbor who lives next door to 1348 N. Jenison Ave., a vacant house on the assessment list owned by Lansing resident Edwar Zeineh, said it might not be easy for everyone to keep up with the new ordinance.
“I know everyone is anxious to keep this place clean, but there are a lot of disabled (people and seniors) that can't get stuff done,” the resident, who asked not to be identified, said.
Zeineh could not be reached for comment.