Lansing Residents Appeal Snow Fees

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Lansing, Mich. (WILX) Some of the 300 residents given fees for failing to clear their sidewalks this winter appealed to the Lansing City Council Monday night.

"I feel this is an unjust bill on my part," said one man who testified during public comment. "I shouldn't be held responsible for the previous owner's lack of responsibility, not taking care of the snow."

Lansing's snow removal ordinance requires that sidewalks be cleared within 24 hours of the stop of snowfall.

Many of the people who pleading their cases claim they were victims of miscommunication or mix-ups. One man claimed he was given the fee before 24 hours had passed. A woman said she was given a fee even though she cleared her walk.

Others asked for sympathy from the city during a difficult winter.

"We really did try our best, but in the end, 20 inches of snow here and there is hard to keep up with," said Michael Doherty, who also took issue with the amount of his fee too -- $124 for 20 minutes of work.

"That's almost $600 an hour there, which is why I was saying maybe I need to start a snow removal company too," he said with a laugh.

Michael Gerrity, appealing a fee for his boss, agreed.

"I think with the severity of the winter, a little bit of leeway should have been given," he said.

Lansing's Public Service Department says, severe winter or not, rules are rules.

"It was an extremely tough winter for everyone," said Christopher Mumby. "The city is responsible for clearing all the streets of course and the city-owned sidewalks are about 550 miles of sidewalks in the city."

The fees are handed down every year, Mumby said, but this year has seen a tenfold increase -- from 29 to 289.

Residents had to appear in person or submit a letter to council for their appeal to be considered.

Then residents must appear before the Committee on Public Service, which meets Wednesday at 11 a.m.

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