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Council discusses problems with snow removal; city to rely on education before resorting to rule

GRANGEVILLE – The Grangeville City Council has put the chill on an ordinance penalizing improper snow removal and is instead relying – for now – on public education to address this seasonal annoyance.

“If it continues to be a problem we’ll have to go to drafting an ordinance,” said Mayor Bruce Walker.

Council remained silent at its March 3 meeting in response to Walker’s question on whether an ordinance was needed for setting up new rules, along with enforcement penalties, on issues involving snow plowed into the city right-of-way that causes obstructions, safety hazards and setting back clearing efforts by city crews. This came in response to a Feb. 24 letter by Lynn Ray expressing concern with a continual problem in her West South First Street neighborhood

Councilors were well-acquainted with and discussed the overall citywide problem that extends from businesses to homeowners.

“I go out at 4 a.m. and there are four-wheelers everywhere, pushing snow wherever they can,” said Lorentz, for example. “And all this stuff is going out in the street.”

Public Works Director Jeff McFrederick explained city crews are out early on snow removal, clearing town within five to six hours. Afterwards, residential cleanup starts, and that snow ends up in the roadway where traffic turns this into ice. Council discussion was on snow being swept into piles that cause traffic obstructions and can potentially block storm drains, and that in instances some violators have been contacted about plowing snow into the right-of-way but have ignored requests to stop.

“If we’re going to have something on the books,” Walker said, “first we have to enforce it, and second, we can’t selectively enforce it; we have to enforce it on everybody.”

Council hesitancy for developing an ordinance came out of discussion about differing situations between residential and commercial zones; how those would be addressed consistently. Consensus was there is a problem here, but addressing the issues specific to each zone and yet maintain a commonsense approach to handling enforcement kept councilors wary on pursuing an enforcement code at this time.

“This is a hard thing,” McFrederick said, as some people they talk to stop dumping their snow – driveways and sometimes parking lots full — into the street, “but some ignore it, and they have.” And then when city crews drive by and push that snow back, blocking in driveways, those property owners call city hall to complain.

“They just added to the problem,” McFrederick said. “They have to understand their tax dollars are spent to fix the problem.”

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