Urbana Council Approves Snow Removal Ordinance

December 06, 2011

An ordinance requiring the shoveling of snow from sidewalks is now on the books in Urbana.

The City Council Monday night passed the measure as a pilot project. The initial plan applies to downtown, Campustown, and part of the Philo Road Business District, specifically, Philo from Florida Avenue to Windsor Road.

Urbana will give property owners 24 hours' notice after two inches of snowfall, and a notice from public works when streets have been plowed. That's less time than Champaign, which provides 48 hours' notice, plus a warning for an additional day for those that don't comply.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing says 24 hours was the recommendation of the city's neighborhood safety task force.

"It's a dangerous situation if we have people pushing baby carriages, and we have people walking in the street," she said. "We're trying to make things safe for pedestrians as well as drivers."

If property owners miss the 24 hour deadline, the city would hire a contractor and bill the property owner.

Alderman Charlie Smyth had suggested the ordinance reflect Champaign's, which provides 48 hours' notice. But he understands criticisms that it's too lax a measure.

"I'm just a little concerned that it is different, and making sure that people can coordinate with the private snow removal crews," said Smyth. "(They) work across both cities. So they're going to have to coordinate their schedules and figure that out. I think this complicates things a little bit."

When the council revisits the ordinance in May, Smyth admits there's a lot yet to figure out, including the cost of hauling snow in neighborhoods where there's nowhere left to store it. Mayor Prussing also hopes a volunteer shoveling effort starts in other neighborhoods.

Alderwoman Heather Stevenson cast the lone vote against the ordinance, saying city-owned sidewalks shouldn't be the responsibility of businesses and homeowners.

Story source: WILL