Property owners receive notice on snow removal

By Carol Walker

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With the recent snow has come the need to get out the shovels and snowblowers again and clear sidewalks around town. For business owners, not doing so could now result in a fine or even a payback to the city for city employee removal of the snow.

Brett McMacken, city administrator, told the council on Monday night that an ad was placed in the newspaper a couple weeks ago, alerting property owners regarding the need to keep sidewalks clean. Dani Schade, development services coordinator, also sent a letter to each business.

“Dani sent warning letters to property owners that within 48 hours of a snow event, sidewalks needed to be cleaned. If not, there would be a fine of $25 the first time and $50 a second time. There is a provision that allows us to clean the sidewalks and assess the property owner, but I am still looking if an amount has already been set for that. If I don’t find it, we will have to set an amount,” said McMacken.

Title 7 under the municipal code outlines the responsibilities of property owners when it comes to snow removal, but apparently that has not been enforced in the past. With the hiring of Schade, the code is being brought to light. McMacken said if the city has to shovel the walk in front of a business, the code says staff will keep track of the time and assess the property owner in June. Janet Wetovick-Bily, chamber director, said she thought 48 hours was very generous, because in Custer, business owners were out front at 9 a.m. shoveling their portion of the sidewalk on Main St.

“I was gone for a week and when I got back the sidewalk was not shoveled. For the past 15 years, the city has always cleaned the sidewalk. I don’t mind doing it, but if all of a sudden there is a change we need to be eased into this a little,” said Councilman Jim Peterson.

In the public comment portion of the meeting, prior to the snow removal discussion, Lorena Freis said something seems to have changed in snow removal.

“Last year it was fabuous. No one had to trudge through snow to get to my store,” Freis said.

The change is likely the current enforcement of the code.

Vic Alexander said after the meeting that if Art Anderson, former public works director, was out on a Bobcat, traveling from point A to point B, rather than lifting the blade, he would push a swath down Main St. sidewalks, which may have set a precedent that the city was responsible to do that. Not so, according to the code.

“There is a civil liability that is completely separate from this saying that if you don’t do it within a reasonable time, it is up to a jury to decide the penalty,” said Frank Bettmann, city attorney.

It was decided that Hill City Planning and Zoning should make this issue a point of discussion.

When it comes to sidewalks, McMacken reported that the updated plan for the renovation of Main St. sidewalks was shipped off to Pierre about a week ago. Councilwoman Kathy Skorzewski asked if it would take about two weeks to respond. McMacken said that was the time frame he was given.

Approved by the council last night was an OnSolve Code RED, a mobile communication system capable of very quickly notifying up to 7,000 recipients of an emergency or community event. The task at hand will be to build a database from members of the community. Residents can be notified via voicemail, email, text or social media.

“The biggest thing now will be to get people signed up. This will likely be an ongoing thing,” said McMacken.

The full-service restaurant liquor license was on the agenda again, but the council voted to table the item due to the fact that the state legislature is working on HB 1200, which could revise the provisions of this license. McMacken said there are two points of discussion currently unsettled by the city. One is the percentage of revenue that must be derived from food vs. alcohol, and the other is how much the license will cost the first year. State law currently says at least 60 percent of the revenue should come from food, and the first year license fee should at least be the same dollar amount as the number of residents of the town.

In other business, the city council approved the wine license for Slate Creek Grille, appointment of municipal volunteers and authorization for the city finance officer and administrative coordinator to apply for a scholarship to attend a conference related to their jobs.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 26, at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.

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