City enforces sidewalk snow removal code

Nicole Stempak

The city of Kent has stepped up its efforts on issuing citations for not clearing plowed snow from sidewalks.

By state law, the city can’t force a property owner to clear his sidewalk after a snowfall, but code enforcement officer Troy Loomis said if piled snow makes walking difficult for pedestrians, the owner has to clear it or faces a fine.

A property owner does not have to clear natural snowfall but must clean sidewalks if plowed snow covers the walkways.

Loomis has issued 21 snow violations this year to area business and property owners. Two of the violators were fined.

All properties have since taken care of their problems, he said.

In January, Kent City Council gave Loomis the authority to issue citations and fine violators himself. Previously, violations had to be filed by the police and processed through the court system.

“I guess you could say, whenever it’s observed, that’s when we take action,” Loomis said. “Even if the snow is still falling and someone has made a huge pile, we’re going to take action pretty much right away.”

The city has also added a “Snow on Sidewalk” complaint form for residents on its Web site. —

The form can be found on the Make A Request option under the Citizen Center tab. Complaints are automatically sent to Loomis for a follow-up.

Sarah Rilling, associate professor and undergraduate studies coordinator for the English Department, lives between East Main Street and Crain Avenue and walks to campus every day. She said the commute can be difficult in the winter because businesses clear parking lots but pile snow along the perimeter, thereby reducing traffic visibility at the crosswalk. Often, sidewalks are not cleared.

Ward 4 Councilman John Kuhar has seen the positive impact of Loomis’ efforts during the last snowstorm.

“I’ve seen where he’s (Loomis) talking with business owners and then the next day you see where there’s a clear path,” Kuhar said. “That’s a good thing. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Contact public affairs reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].