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Keeping the sidewalks clear every property owner's responsibility

Keeping the sidewalks clear so far this year has been relatively easy. With limited snowfall and periods of above average temperatures, most homeowners have been required to do little shoveling. As the calendar approaches December we all know that is sure to change.

A question comes up as to when a person needs to clean their sidewalk. As a courtesy to pedestrians and persons with physical impairments a sidewalk should be cleared as soon as possible following a snow event. By you providing a clear walking path school children and others can avoid being forced to walk upon the roadway.

Property owners who fail to clear snow and ice from sidewalks in a timely manner can face sanctions set by the City and by the Municipal Court. As noted in ordinance 2-0121 below, if after receiving notice a property owner fails to remove the snow or ice the City may cause it to be removed and charge the costs back to the property owner. In addition, the property owner may be fined as set out in ordinance 2-0122.

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) hours 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. 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.

The property owner is responsible for clearing all sidewalks which abut their property with some exceptions. Designated sidewalks along major roadways and across certain back lots are maintained by the City. If you are unsure of your responsibilities, the staff of West Fargo Public Works can be reached at 701-433-5400 to answer any of your questions.