Laramie City Council passed an ordinance amendment last week requiring local property owners to have walkways cleared of snow and ice by 10 a.m. the morning after it snows. The ordinance, which was in its third reading, passed 6-3.
The ordinance is part of the city’s nuisance and abatement code, which reads in part that, “All persons shall keep the sidewalks in front of and adjacent to the tenements or grounds owned by them clear of obstructions such as snow, ice, mud, dirt, rubbish or filth.”
If removal is not properly followed, the city manager’s office will post a notice of violation on the property, which gives the owner until 10 a.m. the next day to make the necessary changes.
If still not adhered to, a contractor will be hired to remove the snow or ice. The owner of the offending property will then be charged a contractor’s fee plus $100 or 50% of the contractor’s fee, whichever ends up being more.
“In our community, a lot of people walk,” City of Laramie planning manager Derek Teini said. “(It’s) to insure safe spaces for people and not have to worry about snow and ice accumulation.”
The first reading for the ordinance amendment took place in early August and has been altered since, mainly in regard to the time that owners would be expected to have snow or ice cleaned up after the initial storm. At a previous point, 7 a.m. was suggested.
The current ordinance requires owners to have snow cleared by noon.
Councilwoman Jessica Stalder, who voted against the amendment in the third reading, said too much time has been spent altering a policy that does not impact enough people to justify the amount of meetings it has necessitated.
“For the first two readings, we’ve probably spent more than an hour or more talking about the snow removal,” Stalder said at last week’s meeting. “It sounds like we’re talking about less than 20 people, a couple thousand dollars, to do this. And it just seems like we’re spending a ton of time on issues like this.
“I think about how much time we’ve spent on snow removal … I hope we can be better stewards of our time. A couple weeks ago we had a special meeting because we had all these agenda items that we couldn’t get to, because we’re spending so much time on snow removal. … I would just encourage us to make good decisions about what we’re spending our time on. We’ve got all these people talking about how we spend our money, but our time is money.”
In response, councilwoman Erin O’Doherty, who voted in favor of the amendment, noted the safety importance behind keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice.
“We’re spending time on snow removal, I am, because ice is a hazard and a lot of people can get hurt,” she said. “And so that’s why we’re spending the time. I don’t think it’s about a couple thousand dollars. I think it’s about the safety of our citizens.”