Council takes feedback on snow, ice removal
Published: Thursday, March 7th, 2013
It wasn’t a Christmas celebration, but snow and Dezember were the focus of discussion at the Custer City Council meeting Monday night.
Tim Dezember was the lone citizen to speak out at the council’s public hearing on its updated snow and ice removal ordinance. Dezember is a building owner in the central business district of Custer—which runs from 4th Street to 9th Street along Mt. Rushmore Road and up to Crook Street to the north and half a block to the south.
The new ordinance states the central business district shall have snow and ice removed to the width of the sidewalk by 9 a.m. The highway commercial district with non-Department of Transportation (DOT) sidewalks must have snow and ice removed to the width of the sidewalk by 9 a.m., the highway commercial district with DOT sidewalks must have snow and ice removed to the width of the sidewalk on the day following the plowing or clearing of the street, and the residential district must have snow and ice removed to the width of the sidewalk 24 hours after the cessation of snowfall.
Dezember said he liked the ordinance the way it was—everyone had 24 hours after snow stopped to clear their sidewalk—and said it made no sense to mandate a business owner shovel their walk by 9 a.m. if it is still snowing.
City community development director Rex Harris said many downtown business owners complained about the old ordinance and suggested the 9 a.m. time for removal enforcement. A specific time will allow for more uniform enforcement, Harris said. If it is still snowing after 9 a.m., the business owner would have 24 hours before they had to come back and shovel again the next day by 9 a.m.
Dezember argued that many times, the city streets aren’t even cleared by 9 a.m. if a large storm comes, and said he would have a hard time getting from his home in the country—from where he has to plow his way out—to downtown to shovel his walk by 9 a.m.
“I hate to see an ordinance change when you only have a problem with three or four people in town,” he said. “I liked the ordinance the way it was. If people can’t get (the snow) off within 24 hours, what makes you think they’re going to have it off by nine o’clock in the morning?”
He also said if the city kept the same ordinance and continued to enforce it, people would eventually fall in line with it.
“The ordinance you have is completely workable. You just need to enforce it. The ones who are responsible shovel,” he said.
Mayor Gary Lipp told Dezember that in previous meetings, many people who showed up voiced opposition to the current ordinance, the opposite of his stance.
“If you would have been here you would have been booed and pushed into the corner,” he said.
Lipp added that one business owner claimed they went around and surveyed other business owners about what they wanted in the ordinance, and the 9 a.m. time was the consensus. Dezember said he was never contacted by anybody. Alderwoman Jeanne Fischer said she also talked to some downtown business owners who said they were never contacted.
The ordinance was eventually tabled for further review, and to consider a later time that the walks must be cleared by, including a 10 a.m. suggestion by Dezember.
The council also heard from public works director Bob Morrison at the meeting, who said the community center steering committee met recently and a floor plan was finalized for the facility. Now demolition plans will be drawn up and some structural improvements may need to be done at the same time some demolition is being done inside. Morrison said both cost estimates and possible volunteer work will be considered.
Morrison said there is the potential of 100 hours of free volunteer work from a spring break group that will come into Custer at the end of March. He said the committee wants to get the plans back to the council as soon as possible for approval so the project can move forward.
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