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Insight from WFPD: Know your responsibilities in snow removal

You know we will receive snow at some point. When we do it is important for everyone to understand their role in keeping West Fargo a safe community for pedestrians and for drivers. Included are the various ordinances relating to snow removal requirements for sidewalks and roadways. Also included are restrictions on parking which are meant to assist snow removal operations on city streets.

13-0706. DUMPING OF SNOW ON CITY STREET PROHIBITED. It shall be unlawful for any person, association, partnership, corporation, or other entity to deposit, place or dump, or permit or authorize the depositing, placing or dumping of any snow removed from any private property or City right-of-way, including public sidewalks and private driveways located upon the street right-of-way upon any City street. It shall further be a violation of this section to deposit, place, or dump, or permit or authorize the depositing, placing or dumping of any snow upon public right-of-ways other than from adjacent sidewalks and driveways. In short, it would be an infraction punishable by a fine up to five hundred dollars to blow, push or dump snow into the street or to blow, push or dump snow from your property across the street on a neighboring property.

15-0309. SNOW AND ICE REMOVAL - SIDEWALKS - NUISANCES. It shall be a nuisance and offense for any person, as owner or occupant of any lot or tenement, to allow snow or ice to accumulate and remain upon any public sidewalk which abuts such lot or tenement. Snow needs to be removed from the sidewalk to allow pedestrian traffic. When sidewalks remain snow covered pedestrians are forced into the street putting them in conflict with motor vehicles.

Similarly, when vehicles remain on the roadway and interfere with snow cleaning operations unsafe conditions can occur. Snowplow operators must slow down and move around the obstruction. By slowing down and going around clearing operations are delayed and the roadway becomes narrowed. By moving your vehicle into an off street parking location you can assist the street crews in clearing the snow efficiently and effectively. It may also save you the inconvenience of having your vehicle towed.

15-0310. SNOW AND ICE REMOVAL - PUBLIC STREETS - NUISANCES. It shall be a nuisance and offense for any person to allow a motor vehicle or other article of personal property to obstruct, prevent or otherwise hinder the removal of snow and ice from any public street, alley or other roadway customarily used for travel. The provisions of 15-0408 to the extent relevant, shall apply to the removal or abatement of such nuisance.

If the property owner fails to clear the snow and ice from a sidewalk they may be charged with an infraction and may have to pay the added expense for having the city remove the snow.

2-0121. SNOW AND ICE ON SIDEWALK REMOVED BY OWNER AND OCCUPANT OF PROPERTY. No snow or ice may be allowed to stand or remain upon any public sidewalk within the city of West Fargo. If any person or corporation either neglects or refuses to remove the snow or ice on a public sidewalk abutting the person's or corporation's property, after forty-eight (48) hour notice by the superintendent of streets, or his designee, the person or corporation will be subject to the penalties set out in Section 2-0122. In addition, the superintendent of street, or his designee, may cause the snow or ice to be removed. The expense incurred in the removal will be charged and assessed against the abutting property by special assessment in a manner prescribed by law.

2-0122. PENALTY. Any violation of the provisions of this chapter will be an infraction unless another penalty is specifically provided for the violation in this chapter. An infraction may be punished by a maximum fine of $500. The municipal judge shall have the authority to establish the penalty for each infraction which is an offense up to a maximum of $500. The court shall have discretion within the $500, even if the ordinance incorporates a specific section of the state code and the state code sets a different penalty for violation of that section. Any person convicted of an infraction who has, within one year prior to the commission of the infraction of which he was convicted, been previously convicted of an offense classified as an infraction may be sentenced as though convicted of a class B misdemeanor. If the prosecution contends that the infraction is punishable as a class B misdemeanor, the complaint or citation shall specify that the offense is a misdemeanor. A class B misdemeanor may be punished by a maximum fine of $1,000, or 30 days imprisonment, or both. Each day such violation continues shall be considered a separate offense.

Certain roadways are deemed to be snow emergency routes. The snow emergency route designation is meant to allow for roadways to remain open to essential travel. The determination is made by the public works department and establishes a prioritization of roadway for snow removal. Special parking restrictions are in place on snow emergency routes.


A. A parking prohibition shall automatically go into effect on any part of any primary snow emergency route on which there has been part of an accumulation of snow and ice of three inches or more for one hour or more between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. of any day.

B. A prohibition of parking on secondary snow emergency routes will only come into effect upon announcement as set out in Section 2-0402. The announcement may include all or part of the secondary snow emergency routes and may provide different times for prohibited parking on different streets and avenues.

C. Once in effect, a prohibition under this section shall remain in effect until terminated by announcement of the Superintendent of Streets in accordance with this chapter, except that any street area which has become substantially clear of snow and ice from curb to curb for the length of the entire block shall be automatically excluded there from. While the prohibition is in effect, no person shall park or allow to remain parked any vehicle on any portion of a primary snow emergency route to which it applies. However, nothing in this section shall be construed to permit parking at any time or place where it is forbidden by any other provision of law.

(Part II of this column will be continued in next week's Pioneer.)

2-0404. STALLED-VEHICLE ON SNOW EMERGENCY ROUTE. Whenever a vehicle becomes stalled for any reason, whether or not in violation of this chapter, on any part of a snow emergency route on which there is a covering of snow, sleet or ice or on which there is a parking prohibition in effect, the person operating such vehicle shall take immediate action to have the vehicle towed or pushed off the roadway of such snow emergency route, either into the first cross street which is not a snow emergency route, or onto the public space portion of a nearby driveway. No person shall abandon or leave his vehicle in the roadway of a snow emergency route (regardless of whether he indicates, by raising the hood or otherwise, that the vehicle is stalled), except for the purpose of securing assistance during the actual time necessary to go to a nearby telephone or to a nearby garage, gasoline station or other place of assistance and return without delay.

Failure to follow the restrictions on stopping or parking may result in your vehicle being towed.


A. Any vehicle stopped on any primary or secondary snow route in violation of any of the provisions of this article may be impounded, and no person shall recover any vehicle removed pursuant to this section without first paying the cost of storage either directly to the towing service and storage place, or by reimbursing the city if the city shall have previously paid such charges, plus an additional $25 payable to the city to cover the costs of the city in assisting the impounding of said vehicle.

B. In addition to the fees set forth in subsection A, any person violating any of the provisions of Chapter 2-04 of the Revised Ordinances of 1990 of the city of West Fargo, shall be guilty of an infraction and shall be subject to the penalties set forth in Section 1-0211.

If you live in an area where a cul-de-sac is present you must be aware of the requirement to park parallel to the curb line unless the roadway is signed for angle in parking. The center of the cul-de-sac is used by the street crews to temporarily stick pile snow and must remain clear of vehicles.

13-1601. PARALLEL PARKING AND DIAGONAL PARKING. The owner, driver or person operating or in charge of any vehicle shall not permit the same to stand or be parked upon any street where there are adjacent curbs unless such vehicle is parallel with the street and the inside wheels not to exceed 18 inches from the right-hand curb or street line. Vehicles must be so parked as to economize parking space for all cases and be so placed as to form, where possible, continuous lines. The police department may, by signs, markers, paint or other devices, limit the parking area, and no vehicle shall be parked wholly or partly outside the indicated and permitted parking area; provided that all vehicles shall be parked diagonally to the curb or any street or avenue if said street or avenue is posted or marked by the police department for said diagonal parking. Where parking is permitted on one-way street the above regulations shall apply except that vehicles parking on the left side of the one-way street shall park parallel to the street and with the wheels on the left side of the automobile not to exceed 18 inches from the left curb or street line.

The final topic of public safety relating to snow removal relates to fire hydrants. During the course of a fire in your neighborhood firefights will need to access the fire hydrants located in the area. By taking the time to clear an area four to six feet around the fire hydrant you allow the fire fighters to quickly locate and access the water supply available. The time spent by fire fighters attempting to locate and clear a hydrant covered in snow can make a difference in saving a life.

Think safety while removing snow. Follow the safety precautions for the equipment you are using. Dress appropriately for the weather and surface you will be walking on. Remember to pace yourself and not over exert. Remain hydrated. November is behind us so we only have five more months to go.