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Commission: No changes to rules regarding sidewalk snow removal

By NICK BUDDHays Post

At a work session Thursday night, the Hays City Commission decided to hold off on implementing snow removal rules for sidewalks.

The issue was brought up for discussion after Commissioner Henry Schwaller received a complaint from a resident.

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“I cautioned her that we wouldn’t get very far with it because of the enforcement issues,” Schwaller said.

The city did have a snow removal ordinance up until 2005, which was rarely enforced, according to city manager Toby Dougherty.  After a heavy snowfall in 2005, an ice storm followed, making it nearly impossible for residents to clear their sidewalks. When citations were issued, a lawsuit was filed and, shortly after, the ordinance was repealed. Dougherty also mentioned that other cities similar to Hays either had ordinances that were very rarely enforced or they simply didn’t have ordinances.

“That being said, I wouldn’t recommend doing anything, but this is up to the commission,” Dougherty said.

During the discussion, the enforcement issues were the main concerns of the commission. Mayor Kent Steward noted the city simply didn’t have the available resources.

“It isn’t difficult in terms of having the political will to do it or worrying about people getting mad,” Steward said. “When it snows, all the city staff that would be out trying to patrol the sidewalks are busy moving snow, and so unless we want to hire temporary people to issue sidewalk citations, we don’t have people to do it.”

The commission decided to take no further action on the issue.

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