There’s no business like snow business
Published: Thursday, February 14th, 2013
For two consecutive winters, there has been considerable talk about the City of Custer’s snow ordinance, or, more importantly, when it should kick into effect. For us, it’s simple. If it snows, shovel your walk. If enough snow or ice accumulates to become a hazard, shovel your walk. This seems like a common sense issue that is being over-analyzed. Part of being a good citizen—whether it’s a downtown business owner or Joe Citizen on any street in town—is shoveling your walk when we get a snowstorm.
There does seem to be some confusion and accidental intertwining of two separate edicts handed down by the city. The city’s ordinance regarding the shoveling of sidewalks does not specify a certain amount of snow that needs to fall on a sidewalk before it needs shoveled. Rather, it states any “accumulation” needs to be shoveled within 24 hours of a storm. Put plainly, if it starts snowing, you’re going to need to shovel your walk within 24 hours the snow or ice has formed.
The confusion comes in from an ad the city places in the Custer County Chronicle each year, warning people not to leave their vehicles parked on city streets or alleys if two or more inches of snow falls. The city can’t plow if everyone’s vehicles are parked on the street. City ordinance calls for people to have their cars off the street after such an event from midnight until 8 a.m., or until such time as the snow is removed.
You can rest assured the city doesn’t enjoy fining people for not shoveling their walks. You need only see the discussion that unfolds at a city council meeting when someone comes in to protest a fine after they have had their property abated by the city. If 24 hour passes without a walk getting shoveled, the city crew is called in to do the work, and the business owner receives a bill in the mail for the work the crew did.
We understand that sometimes, people aren’t around when the snow starts to fly. Be that as it may, it is incumbent upon all business owners, especially those downtown, to have contingency plans for such instances. The city can provide all business owners with a list of contacts they can call to arrange to have their snow removed if there should be a storm when they are out of town. Make an agreement with a neighboring business to shovel each other’s walks when the other is out of town. There are ways these things can get done, and the fines don’t have to be levied. We are all responsible for our own sidewalks. There are many business owners who have never received a fine, because they are immediately outside shoveling when the snow starts, or have paid someone to do it for them. That’s the way it has to be.
We applaud the city for enforcing its ordinance as written. Until such time as the ordinance is reworked, which appears to be coming down the pipe, the city must do its job and make the sidewalks in the city safe. If a business owner believes it’s expensive to pay a fine for not shoveling their walk, imagine how much they will be paying if someone slips and falls in front of their store and gets hurt. You better believe that will cost a lot more than the city could ever dream of charging them for an abatement.
It’s simple. If it snows, get our your shovel. It’s the price for being a business owner and a citizen. Nobody likes the work, but it’s something that has to be done. It’s a common sense and good business.
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