If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Probably just about everyone in Wisconsin has experienced this — it stops snowing, and the next thing you know, the snowplow has filled in the end of your driveway.
Sometimes it’s a small bank of light fluffy snow, and sometimes it’s heavy wet snow that rolls off the snowplow blade in boulder-sized chunks.
Colfax resident Robert Scofield ended up with snowplowed snow across his driveway following the six to eight inches of snow on November 27 — and sent an invoice to the village requesting payment for having to shovel the snow out of the end of his driveway.
The Colfax Village Board denied Scofield’s request for payment at the December 9 meeting.
Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, told the village board she had sent a letter to Scofield citing state statute 86.105 — Snow removal in private driveways. “The governing body of any county, town, city or village may enter into contracts to remove snow from private roads and driveways. This section must be construed to include restrictions. Plowing of private parking lots is not authorized.”
Niggemann noted she had also spoken to Scofield and that he said he was not asking the village to plow his driveway.
In an e-mail message dated November 27, Scofield wrote that he woke up the morning of November 27, was getting ready for work, “and found all of our vehicles were buried in a mound of snow put there by the folks tasked by the village to clear the roads. We were unable to exit the driveway. This practice of shoveling the snow into people’s driveways is grossly unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Niggemann said she also had talked to the village’s attorney.
“We didn’t do anything wrong. This is normal. Municipalities don’t go back and plow entrances to driveways or entrances to sidewalks. That is the property owner’s responsibility,” she said.
Scofield had e-mailed pictures of the snow and said so much snow had been dumped in the end of their driveway that it knocked the snow off the hood of his wife’s car, Niggemann said, adding that it was impossible to tell from looking at the pictures whether the snowplow had knocked the snow off the hood or whether the temperatures had warmed up enough for the snow to slide off the hood.
After looking at pictures of the Scofield residence taken from the street, Village Trustee Mark Halpin pointed out that the village should send Scofield a reminder about shoveling the sidewalk and shoveling the end of the sidewalk where it meets the street.
“People either wade through it, or they walk in the street,” he said.
Niggemann said there were several places around town that needed reminders about shoveling out the end of the sidewalk where it meets the street or an alley.
“I don’t see any reason why we should pay the bill he has presented to us,” said Village Trustee Carey Davis.
A motion not to pay the invoice sent by Orion Enterprises for two hours of snow removal at a total cost of $80.70 and not to pay any similar bills presented to the village was unanimously approved by the Colfax Village Board.
In another matter related to snow removal, Scott Gunnufson, village president, said a business owner on Main Street had talked to him, Niggemann and Rand Bates, director of public works, about removing snow from the parking spaces along Main Street.
Removing snow from Main Street during the day is hazardous with all of the traffic on state Highway 40, he said.
It is easier and safer for Bates and the other village employees to remove snow at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., Gunnufson said.
The snow on the parking stalls does, however, create difficulties for businesses. The business owner said she has had to help elderly customers push their cars out of the snow by the curb, he said.
Bates devised several options, and one option was to remove the snow from the parking stalls first thing on an odd/even basis — the odd-numbered side of the street on odd-numbered days, and the even-numbered side of the street on even-numbered days, Gunnufson said.
Village employees would try the odd/even option as a pilot program from Commercial Testing to Express Mart “to see how it works,” he said.
Gunnufson stressed it was a pilot program, and the village employees would determine how much time it takes, what are the safety factors, and what are the timing constraints
Bates noted that traffic starts moving through Colfax at 4 a.m.
Mark Johnson, owner of the Colfax Arts & Antique Mall and the Cafe II Coffee Shop and Bakery, asked to address the board as a business owner and property owner on the corner of Main Street and West River Street.
Johnson noted that the village’s parking restrictions on River Street affect his business and his tenants and also affects Colfax Hometown Pharmacy across the street.
Johnson said he has the same concern for River Street as the concerns from the other business owner on Main Street.
After the snowfall on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, people still drove downtown and parked practically in the middle of the street to get to the post office, he said.
Two of the village residents who were parked near the middle of the street were in their 90s, Johnson noted.
Employees for the businesses on River Street could park on Cedar Street if necessary, but the customers are going to park by the buildings no matter if it in the middle of the street, he said.
Johnson says he has talked to his tenants “until I am blue in the face” about not parking on River Street until the snow has been removed.
Because of the village’s restrictions, if you are parked on River Street when the snowplow comes through, you will get a parking ticket, he said.
Johnson said he understands that the timing of snow removal has everything to do with when it snows, when it stops snowing, how much it snows and what day of the week it snows.
The village employees will try the pilot project for those two blocks of Main Street and will evaluate the situations as they come up, Gunnufson said.
They will come through with the snowplow once and then they will come back with the blower and the dump truck for the parking area along the curb, he said.
The pilot project on Main Street will be done at 4 a.m., and not at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m., because there is no room for the snowplow, the blower and the dump truck when traffic is moving, Gunnufson said.