In the city of Bloomington, property owners are responsible under local law for clearing the sidewalks next to their land.
The fine is graduated: $50 (first offense), $100 (second offense), and $150 (third offense).
The city’s housing and neighborhood and development (HAND) department enforces the ordinance.
How many tickets and fines has Bloomington’s foot of snow in February, caused HAND to issue?
According to HAND’s interim director, Brent Pierce, for the 2021 snow removal ticket cycle, the city of Bloomington has so far issued 24 tickets with fines.
Of the total 252 citations, 228 were warnings, Pierce said. It is HAND policy to issue a warning, and if the snow has not been removed after a second visit, then a ticket is issued with a fine.
The snow removal warning/ticket cycle starts on Aug. 1 of each year.
The time frame spelled out in the ordinance for required clearing or snow and ice is “within twenty-four hours after snow or ice has ceased to fall or in any way accumulate.”
It’s possible for someone to appeal a citation for failure to clear snow from a sidewalk, just like it’s possible to appeal a citation for letting grass in a lawn grow longer than 8 inches. Appeals are made to the board of public works. It’s not uncommon during the summer months to see board of works meeting agenda items on appeals for excessive growth citations.
Appeals for failure to clear snow from a sidewalk seem to be rare. Director of public works Adam Wason told The Square Beacon a couple of weeks ago that there were none that he could remember. He added, “The photographic evidence of an unshoveled sidewalk usually speaks for itself.”
But an appeal on a snow clearance citation was scheduled to be heard at the board’s Monday meeting this week. It was on the agenda initially posted for the meeting. The appeal from the person who was cited was laid out in the meeting information packet.
The fresh version of the agenda and packet posted on Monday for the meeting that night did not include the appeal. What happened?
Pierce told The Square Beacon that HAND policy holds the property owners responsible for snow removal citations, but the local ordinance allows landlords to put the responsibility on the tenant in the terms of the lease agreement.
In the appeal that was due to be heard on Monday, the tenant was technically responsible via the agreement, but only became aware of their responsibility when they received the ticket, Pierce said.
According to Pierce, the tenant immediately bought a snow shovel and salt, and cleared the snow the day the ticket was issued—and sent in photos by email to document the effort.
Pierce said that HAND has discretion in these matters. As Pierce put it: “Given the lack of notice and the prompt remedying of the violation, I voided the ticket.”