‘Better, but not perfect’

The Laramie Code Enforcement Division will soon have the ability to penalize residents who do not clear sidewalks of ice and snow, but only after about 48 hours past the end of a snow event.

During a Laramie City Council special meeting Tuesday, the council approved the final reading of an ordinance proposing several changes to Laramie’s current sidewalk snow removal ordinance.

During previous readings of the ordinance, several members of the public spoke out against a change requiring residents to clear sidewalks of snow and ice by 9 a.m. the day after a snow event ended. According to the previous ordinance, residents were allotted 24 hours after a snow event to clear the snow, but Laramie Code Enforcement Inspector Brian Forster informed the council — upon introduction of the ordinance — 24 hours was difficult to enforce.

If the resident does not clear their sidewalk before 9 a.m. the day after a snow event, Forster — the city’s sole code enforcement inspector — could leave a notice on the resident’s door, giving them 24 hours to comply before the city pursued other means of removing the snow.

“I’m not comfortable with the 9 a.m. (requirement), because I’m not positive the majority of our residents would be compliant,” Councilor Phoebe Stoner said. “And I’m not comfortable passing an ordinance where that’s the case.”

Councilor Pat Gabriel made a motion to amend the ordinance, granting residents until noon the day following a snow event before a notice was issued. Stoner seconded the motion, and it was approved 6-2, with Vice Mayor Jayne Pearce and Councilor Bryan Shuster voting against and Councilor Dave Paulekas absent.

Twenty-four hours after the city issued a notice of failure to comply, the proposed changes would have allowed the code enforcement division to use an abatement process to remove the snow, charge the resident for the removal and add a scaling administrative fee to the bill for repeat offenders.

“I think we might be going at this with a really big sledgehammer, and maybe that’s not necessary,” Mayor Andi Summerville said. “I think this is a pretty harsh standard in a community where it’s winter nine months out of the year.”

Stoner made a motion amending the proposed changes to remove the scaling administrative fee and setting it at $50. Councilor Joe Shumway seconded the motion, and it was approved 6-2, with Pearce and Shuster voting against and Paulekas absent.

Laramie residents William Moore and Susan Simpson spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting in favor of the ordinance, but Tim Hale said he was concerned the city was enforcing stricter standards on residents than it did on itself.

“I think Mr. Hale made a very good point; we’re holding our residents to a higher standard than we are holding ourselves,” Councilor Klaus Hanson said. “I cannot support this.”

Summerville also expressed concerns about the ordinance.

“I’m very uncomfortable with this,” she said. “We don’t have the resources to enforce this.”

While Stoner said she still had reservations about the policy change, she said she would support the amended version.

“I don’t think it’s perfect, but I think it’s better,” she said.

The council approved the ordinance as amended 6-2, with Summerville and Hanson voting against and Paulekas absent.

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