Pre-Council Meeting & Snow Removal Ordinance

We didn’t anticipate that the change in the borough’s meeting schedule would impact our ability to keep up with the meeting videos as much as it has. In addition to the change in schedule, we experienced a camera malfunction that nullified any filming we attempted at the meetings we were actually able to attend!

Thankfully, it seems as if all that has been rectified, and tonight we will have a camera in place for the April Pre-Council Meeting. As always, as much as we appreciate you tuning in to view the council meeting films we provide, we encourage you, the residents of Bellevue, to attend the meetings if possible so that your voice can be heard in person.

hand_shovelingTonight, Bellevue Council will be reading a questionable new ordinance for the third and final time – the new snow removal ordinance. This new ordinance would effectively remove all required warnings from the current snow removal ordinance. Meaning, under this new ordinance the Bellevue Code Enforcer will maintain the right to issue a citation on the spot if one’s snow is not shoveled from their sidewalk within 24 hours (the prescribed fine for not adhering to this ordinance is between $100-500). After expressing some question and concern regarding the potential abuse of power to which this ordinance could lead, we have been reassured that the ordinance is only being changed in order to “more effectively handle nuisance properties in the borough.”

There is no doubt that the intent of the new legislation is honorable and for the benefit of the borough. However, intention and implementation are two entirely different things. Liberty in Bellevue is always suspicious of new legislation which unnecessarily increases the power of local government. For instance, what is to stop a Bellevue official from targeting their political or personal adversaries with excessive citations and fines if the warning system is rescinded (let’s not forget recent history before we cast off any fears of personal vendettas). While we understand the frustration stemming from an unnecessarily bureaucratic warning period (the former ordinance required something like a 30 day warning) potentially eliminating the warnings altogether seems like an unwarranted swing of the proverbial pendulum. Would it not be prudent to maintain a small window of opportunity for a suspected offender of this ordinance to correct their mistake?

We’d love to hear from you. What do you think of the new proposed Snow Removal Ordinance? Do you support immediate citation? Or, do you prefer some kind of a warning period by which one would have the ability to rectify their mistake?

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18 Responses to “Pre-Council Meeting & Snow Removal Ordinance”

  1. First time that snow isn’t removed within 24 hours, the home owner/landlord receives a warning and a copy of the ordinance. Second time the snow isn’t removed within 24 hours, there needs to be a fine, on the spot. There is some sort of 30 days grace period in the current ordinance which I personally find to be absolutely ridiculous. Snow melts, temps change, 30 days is too much. 24 hours is enough time to take care of business.

    • The 30 day grace period is some form of urban legend. It doesn’t exist in the current ordinance which I have before me…

      • What does the ordinance say? it would be nice if Bellevue would post their ordinances on their website.

  2. If you live in the borough, you should know that snow has to be removed after 24 hours. I think fines should be issued without warnings.

    • We have a lot of renters who come and go. There is no reasonable expectation that they would be informed of every law in the borough. A reasonable warning should be maintained for informational purposes. A one time warning per season isn’t uneasy, yet easily enforced if not heeded.

  3. geneeaster@verizon.net Reply April 8, 2014 at 6:51 pm

       

  4. Uhhh, I’m 65 and don’t put a premium on snow removal. I’m not tasking and risking my aging bones and muscles so someone can have a carefree walk through the snow. The people that want this ordinance should not be such pampered pussies and try walking through the snow like people in most suburbs that don’t have sidewalks. And since most parents today of able bodied children cater to and kiss the butts of their children there are few children that will clean sidewalks to earn money.
    On another part of this issues the law applies EQUALLY to ALL. You can’t single out absentee landlords or home owning undesirables from anyone else in enforcement of a law. That is what separates us Americans from citizens of banana republics (some people actually think Obama-ism is something more than a nightmarish aberration).

  5. Taking away the notice provision of this ordinance is completely inappropriate. I purchased my home in Bellevue a year ago. I’m a new homeowner and I greatly appreciated the warning that I received this year. I also work 60 hours a week, so no 24 hours is NOT always enough time when you have working people that are trying to live their lives in a responsible way. Also, there were times this winter (with the layers of ice) that I could not get my sidewalks completely bare even with shoveling and salt. We already pay a ridiculous high tax rate in Bellevue (us new owners bear the brunt of this by the way), and the neighborhood isn’t exactly prospering. Let’s NOT drive working people from Bellevue with these stupid, unrelenting ordinances!! Knowing what I do now, community ordinances and attitudes would have factored into my decision to live here. Now that I’m here, I’d like to do what I can to make sure that the community doesn’t suffer from these things.

  6. Also, this seems like a scheme to drum up money from fines. If Bellevue really cared about its community then it would do something about the speeding, loud cars/trucks that race around at ALL HOURS of the night and day. This is a real danger to the people that live here, not to mention a huge nuisance.

  7. Jodi,
    You saying that you work a lot seems to be an ongoing issue with this ordinance. Along with people that may be on vacation, etc…
    That does not take away the responsibility to keep up with your sidewalk. Would you rather pay someone (or ask a neighbor to take care of it) or deal with a lawsuit when someone slips and breaks their head on your sidewalk? Working, vacation, etc. is not an excuse to not have your sidewalk cleared. It’s the home owners responsibility to do it, they need to figure it out. My parents work 60+ hours per week each, therefore they pay a local person to shovel and salt their sidewalk.
    I cannot tell you how many times over this past winter that I was out walking and almost cracked my head on an un-maintained sidewalk in Bellevue. It’s an issue for sure. Instead of finding excuses, the good home owners, the hard working residents, and the people that are proud to call this place home need to find a way to not be a part of the problem.

    As far as what you said about loud cars and trucks…I’m not sure that you really want our police to sit around with a decibel meter and hand out citations, last time i checked, we have a much bigger problem than someones terribly installed after-market exhaust system. As far as the speeding, I agree…it has to be managed more closely and cited more often. If you’re concerned about the danger that speeding can cause, then you should also be concerned that someone will slip, fall, and crack their head on a sidewalk.

    • Nina,

      There must be a balance. As I said in my post, I appreciated the warning that I received this year. A reasonable notice IS warranted, if not required (there is a such thing as “due notice” under the law). A 30 day notice makes no sense either, but removing any notice is an undue hardship. Using the guilt-trip logic that “good” and “responsible” homeowners will not be affected is simply not true. I agree with the Administrator that without a notice provision, the ordinance could be abused.

      Frankly, I resent your hostility and I hope that it is not indicative of this group b/c I will promptly leave it. We all want to live in a happy, safe environment. I’d like to see this community improve and strive and be apart of a group that encourages that.

      On the issue of noise violations. Noise violations are cause for citations in many places. I don’t know what, if any, ordinance Bellevue has for excessive noise but it’s either nothing or not enforced. It is those SPEEDING vehicles that I’m talking about. An old car that is a little loud is one thing, but I’m referring to cars and motorcycles that are extremely loud because they are driving very fast. I’d like them not to drive into a tree or house, or hit and kill a pedestrian. Also, slip and falls can happen year round and that is why we have homeowner’s insurance.

  8. Jodi,
    If you scroll to the first comment on this post, you’ll see that I completely agree with you 100% that warnings/notices need to be given. I was not being hostile, I suppose my to-the-point writing style can come across that way, but I was only putting possible circumstances out there because I think this ordinance is very important. If you’ve only recently followed LiB, I’ll let you know that I am rarely in favor of regulations. However, in order for this borough to be welcoming and safe for the people that we’re hoping to KEEP here, I think that removal of snow within 24 hours of snowfall ending is reasonable. I think that a lot of the problems that this borough faces are because of people not accepting responsibility for things, and if we want to see positive changes, that mindset has to change. For the most part, i think the snow removal ordinance is back on the table because of absentee landlords that see their property as nothing more than cash flow. They have no vested interest in the community, surrounding neighbors, or the business district. Unfortunately, in order to attempt to eliminate their abesntee-ism, the ordinance has to be imposed on all home owners.

    I don’t see it as any different than a business on Lincoln Ave. having to be responsible for their cracked/broken sidewalk. If someone was to fall and get injured on a business sidewalk due to neglect, I’m sure they’d seek a lawsuit.

    As for the speeding, we’re in total agreement on that. Unfortunately, LiB can only shed a light on the issue, but speaking directly to Police Chief Setner would probably be your best bet to get results. You can also come to the next council meeting on April 22nd and let the council/police chief know about any areas that you’ve seen where speeding is a problem.

  9. I think seniors living in the borough should be exempt from this ordinance. Perhaps some of the younger Bellevue residents, rather than just running their mouths and creating hardships for older people, could volunteer to clean sidewalks of seniors. That’s community! Perhaps council should cite people who DO NOT NOR HAVE EVER repaired their broken sidewalks. My wife fell on Orchard Avenue last summer on a bad sidewalk. Since it is likely the snow ordinance, like the maintaining sidewalks requirement, will probably never be enforced why bother passing it.

  10. And whose sidewalk is it anyway, Nina? I repaired mine two summers ago and EMS, police, pizza deliverers, beer distributor drivers, steam cleaner drivers, Lowes, Sears, Home Depot still park on the sidewalk I maintain. How about an ordinance to keep vehicles off of the sidewalk. That is a more SANE ordinance.

    • Nina, you seem like you have some resentment toward landlords, absentee or otherwise. If it wasn’t for those landlords those properties would be vacant, boarded up properties. Be happy they contribute to the borough revenue stream.

  11. Bill,
    I disagree about seniors being exempt from the ordinance. People fall just as badly on an icy sidewalk in front of a young persons home as they could on the sidewalk of a mature persons home. We cannot continue to try to market Bellevue as a ‘walking’ community and not enforce the snow removal ordinance for all. I agree that the youth should be a bigger part of our community and one way that they could do that would be to offer to help the senior citizens to keep their walks clear in the winter. But in my eyes, it comes down to the responsibility of the home owner, young, old, or otherwise. It’s up to them to find a way to keep it cleared and safe. They don’t have to do it themselves, but they have to find a way to do it. If for no other reason, be it to protect our local senior citizens from falling on ice. (in other words, it works both ways.)

    As for what you said about “whose sidewalk is it?”. Trust me, I understand completely about your frustration. When I was going back and forth with the council about allowing my TWO sidewalk tables to be allowed to have their BYOB drinks, the council had to tie themselves in knots to try to make sense of that fact that in certain circumstances, the sidewalk was MY responsibility, but in others, it was theirs. For instance, if the sidewalk was in need of repair, it was MY responsibility, if it was dirty or littered, it was my responsibility. BUT…if my paying patrons were to enjoy their glass of BYOB wine on that very sidewalk, it was now in the hands of the local government. Funny how that works.

    I don’t have resentment for landlords. I know some very good landlords in our borough. I most definitely have resentment towards slumlords in our borough. I don’t think I really need to get into the details of why…

  12. OK, so use some boro employees, or hire some people to do the sidewalks. Or pass an ordinance that limits what can be charged for clearing sidewalks. Think about it. Anytime government dictates something a taxpayer must do the wolves come out to provide what the service or product is at the highest rates. They know they can gouge (or simply high demand, high prices) if the people who refuse to participate or lack the wherewithal will be sanctioned. The best thing is for council (government) to do is stay out of the way because what they do will likely make things worse. There is nothing worse than government that thinks emotionally rather than practically. Gee it would be nice if Bellevue were this and Bellevue were that but it ain’t gonna happen here. Not enough money in this community. Plain and simple. Just keep it reasonably safe and pave the streets.
    +

    • The boro employees should not be responsible for clearing sidewalks. It’s bad enough they have to take care of vacant properties. That includes keeping the grass and weeds down and also making sure the sidewalks are kept clear. Clean you sidewalk or get fined….

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