The Associated Press
George Munford shovels snow off the front steps of his home Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C.
It may be time to get friendly with your neighbors because if you don't shovel your sidewalks this winter, you'll pay.
"It's a safey issue. Period," says Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar.
Currently, the City of Lansing tickets property owners a small fee for not clearing snow. But after council approved a new ordinance on Monday, offenders will pay at least $120 for unshoveled sidewalks.
"It will probably be complaint-based more than anything," Dunbar says. "We don't have enough manpower to police every sidewalk in the city."
After that complaint is filed, the city will issue notices on their doors and in the mail. Council originally gave people 48 hours to clear the snow before hiring someone else to take care of the problem. But council passed a new amendment, giving homeowners only have 24 hours.
"Ultimately, from the time snow ends until we get someone out there, it'll be 4-5 days. That's a long time," Dunbar says.
But Lansing resident Beverly Anderson has some concerns about that.
"We're gone for the whole winter."
Anderson and her family vacation and may not be able to immediately clear snow if a big storm hits. It's a major worry for many Lansing residents.
"They may be out of town," says resident Michael Owne. "They may be a truck driver. They may be on the road, and the only time they could do it is if their neighbors are nice enough to help them out."
But city leaders say anyone who feels he/she has been unfairly fined can come before council to try to waive or reduce fees. They say the new ordinance isn't meant to penalize residents but to protect them.
"We have folks who walk their kids to school, who are in a wheelchair, it's impossible to travel on a snow-covered sidewalk," Dunbar says.
Leaves may line the streets now, but snow will soon take their place. And it's up to residents to keep sidewalks clear.
Another proposed amendment was to remove the sunset clause from the ordinance. That would require the law to be repealed after two years. The amendment was not passed.