Committee discusses snow removal

Kevin Gareau

City group isn’t ready to make recommendations to Council

The city of Kent’s Sidewalk Snow Removal Ad Hoc Committee is researching options to remove the accumulating snow from the city’s sidewalks.

The committee met last night to hear presentations from City Law Director Jim Silver and Service Director Gene Roberts. While committee members were pleased with some of the suggestions Silver and Roberts made, they did not yet feel confident enough to make any recommendations to City Council.

One of the main issues the committee is trying to solve is whether to penalize property owners who do not plow or clear their sidewalks.

Silver explained that currently, the city has both civil and criminal ordinances involving snow removal. The criminal ordinance allows the city to fine any property owner who does not clear snow off their sidewalk. Silver said the Ohio Supreme Court, however, has ruled that property owners are not responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks.

The civil ordinance would require city workers to walk around the city and take pictures of every offending property.

The city would then give each property owner 24 hours after the snow had stopped falling to clear the sidewalk. If they fail to do so, the offense would be recorded in their property tax records.

Silver said there are problems with both approaches.

“Frankly, I’m not going to issue a citation to my 84-year-old mother for not shoveling her sidewalk, and neither will the police,” he said.

He added Bowling Green currently uses the civil offense method, and it has created more phone calls and complaints to city officials than any other law.

Roberts said the city does not have the staff or the equipment to clear all of the sidewalks. One of his suggestions was that the city issue free licenses to private plow companies. The companies would be issued rules with the licenses, and those that did not follow the rules would be fined.

Roberts said he is also trying to come up with other ways to keep the sidewalks clear.

“I’ve asked our snowplow drivers to experiment with different ways to clear intersections,” he said.

Committee members will also attempt to have officials from Bowling Green attend a future meeting to hear how snow removal has worked in their city.

The Sidewalk Snow Removal Ad Hoc Committee meets again Feb. 9.

Contact public affairs reporter Kevin Gareau at [email protected].