Notes from the Chief – 12-18-2013

by Chief Pete Gehring

How do the words of that song go? “Oh, the weather outside is frightful”. Yep, that would be Colfax. The ice, the snow, and the extreme cold have all led to some frightful weather and conditions. And all that brings me to the subject of this article. Snow removal from sidewalks in residential and business districts will be very hard to contend with. The icy, slippery conditions will be with us for a long time unless we work hard to address them. For safety’s sake, we can’t just leave them to nature. So here is the real hard facts as the subject is addressed in the Village ordinances.

 Colfax municipal ordinance 6-2-7 calls for the snow and ice removal from the sidewalks of our residential and commercial properties. In rental situations, it is the landlord’s responsibility unless there is an agreement with the tenant. For residential areas, the ordinance states: in the event of a snow accumulation, the sidewalk must be cleared of any snow and/or ice within 24 hours of the time the snow ceases. In the event ice has formed on the sidewalk in a manner that it cannot be removed, it is the property owner’s responsibility to keep the sidewalk sprinkled with sand, ice removal compound and/or salt, to permit the safe travel by pedestrians. A legal definition of ice hazard would be anything that cannot be safely stepped over. This applies to “ALL” sidewalks even if they are not regularly used. The ordinance further states that the sidewalks in front of commercial property, whether occupied or not, shall be cleared by 10 a.m. of each day. You are also required to remove or safely cover any ice areas. There is a sizable fine structure for those property owners that fail to comply with these ordinances. A warning may be issued one time during the season. This will be in the form of a red warning tag placed on your door or personally handed to you. After that, violations will be cited under the municipal ordinance code.

This ordinance also talks about the removal of snow from your sidewalks and/or driveway, by moving it into the streets by pushing, blowing, or throwing. In the downtown business district, because there are no boulevards, business owners may move snow into the street if done so by 10 a.m. In other areas, you are not allowed to move snow into the street. Not even if you are pushing it across the street to the opposite curb line. Our recent ice storm showed that this procedure makes for very dangerous conditions in the streets.

At this same time we need to consider our street snow plows by following Ordinance 10-1-27, “Street maintenance parking restrictions”. a) Between November 1 and May 1 and the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., parking will be allowed on the south and east sides of the streets on even numbered days. B) Between November 1 and May 1 and the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., parking is allowed on the north and west sides of the streets on odd numbered days. One needs to remember that these days start at midnight and the odd – even parking starts at that time. There may not be any snow at 10 p.m. when you retire for the night, but a plowable amount at 2 a.m. The hours that Village equipment actually plows does not influence this ordinance. c) States that throughout the year and between the hours of 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., there is no parking on Main Street.

Remember to be aware of the parking restrictions to prevent receiving a municipal parking ticket. Consider the street department employees that are clearing the streets. Just because you can see them does not mean they can see you. You may be responsible for any accident that may happen. Slow your speed during snowy and icy conditions because your stopping distance is greatly influenced by road conditions. Be cautious, be careful, and be considerate. Have a safe winter.