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City council addresses snow concerns

City council addresses snow concerns

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Though Chadron has yet to see any accumulation of snow on the ground, the fall and winter weather is already causing a flurry of commentary at the city council meetings.

Lengthy discussion regarding snow removal began with the first reading of Ordinance 1416, which would amend Chapter 13, Article 2, Section 13-209 of the City Municipal Code. Under the ordinance, the section states snow, sleet, mud, ice, slush, or compaction of such materials, must be removed within 24 hours after the cessation of a storm. This time limit applies to all of Chadron. Snow removed from private property shall not be placed in or upon public streets or alleys.

In the Central Business District, snow from public sidewalks only — not parking lots or other private property — shall be pushed into the gutter of the streets outside the curbline. This district includes: the 100 to 400 blocks of Main Street; the 100 and 200 blocks of Bordeaux Street, Chadron Avenue, Morehead Street, East Second and East Third; and the 100 to 300 blocks of West Second and West Third.

Victor King questioned what would happen to people who were gone and don’t have someone to clear snow from their property within 24 hours. Police Chief Tim Lordino such times would be handled on a property by property basis, and the owners would be spoken to about making arrangements for the next time they will be gone. He pointed out if a property owner violates the 24-hour rule repeatedly, he or she would be at risk for a citation.

Council proceeded with the first reading of Ordinance 1417, which amend Chapter 16, Article 3, Section 16-333 of the municipal code, and creates penalty for violating the section. Under the ordinance, the code states it is unlawful for property owners, lessees or occupants of property, or contractors, to shovel, plow or blow any snow from sidewalks, driveways or private property onto any street or alley in the city. When snow is placed in the public right of way, it shall be entirely back of curb and at no time will be a sight obstruction at the intersection of any street or alley, or block any public sidewalk. Snow will not be pushed from curb line to curb line.

The only exception to this ordinance is the Central Business District, where snow from public sidewalks only will be pushed to the gutter in such a way to cause the least amount of traffic interference.

City Manager Greg Yanker said what started discussion toward this ordinance is primarily, when it comes to snow removal, contractors or property owners often push snow back into the street after city crews have cleared them. This causes additional work for the crews, Yanker noted. There have also been people who have tried to push snow from one side of the street to the other but the equipment they use doesn’t have the necessary power to move it, resulting in large piles of snow in the street. Further, businesses with little to snow storage in their lots sometimes push snow into the streets.

Of course, one of the more frustrating aspects of clearing snow from a driveway in front of a residence is having a plow come by and push more snow from the street into the drive. An idea brought up in discussion is, when roads need cleared, to have vehicles park on one side of the street on certain days, then switch sides the following day to alleviate the frustration and more easily clear streets. However, it was noted there could be some difficulty in getting people to comply and make sure they are parking on the correct side on a given day.

Cindy Simones acknowledged the fact that city crews have to be paid to clear a second time when people push snow from their drive to the streets, but also expressed concern people have to do extra work as well when the plows come by.

Herb Petersen pointed out the city has some very nice equipment, including butterfly plows that can be manipulated in a variety of ways. He stressed that plows do not need to be driven more than seven miles per hour to keep the load of snow moving, and plows with these butterfly blades going at slower speeds would be able to more effectively clear the snow if operators use them correctly.

The first reading of Ordinance 1418 was done as well. The ordinance addresses obstruction of fire hydrants and other connections the fire department would need by wire, chain, rope, cord, waste disposal containers, building materials, furniture, trash or snow, and the requirement to remove such items and materials so the connections can be used.

The first reading of Ordinance 1419 was completed. Under the ordinance, the city would adopt the 2018 International Building Code and International Residential Code, to which the state has gone.

Statutory rules regarding the passage and adoption of ordinance 1420 were suspended, to allow the ordinance to be read and passed within the same meeting. The ordinance provides for an additional 15-year extension of the franchise agreement with Great Plains Cable Television to construct, operate and maintain a cable television system in Chadron.

In other action, council approved Resolution 2020-84, to approve grant funding recertification for the city’s Hand Bus program to allow its continued use.

A facility use agreement and COVID-19 addendum with the Chadron Youth Soccer Club for use of the Roger Eaton Soccer Fields and Shumway Softball Fields from Oct. 1 through Nov. 1 was approved. Jennifer Wallage noted the soccer club, which is for youth 12 and older, has been in the works for a few years. They will use the fields for practice and potential games against Scottsbluff.

A license agreement between the city and United Methodist Church was approved for use of the public right of way to place a sign at 847 Shelton Street. Rob Wahlstrom explained this is an electronic display. If the sign had to be put the full 40 feet from the right of way, he said, there are a couple healthy trees they don’t want to get rid of but which would block the sign.

Specifications were approved for two new 2021 or newer half-ton regular cab four-wheel drive pickups with trade-in options. Under the same motion, a notice to dealers was authorized and three city vehicles were declared surplus and authorized for use in trade-in.

Utilities Superintendent Tom Menke said one of the trucks would be used for the Parks Department. The other would be used for the Water/Wastewater Department.

Council member Mark Werner questioned why the specifics had to be set at having a truck with a V8 engine, where a V6 would help save on fuel costs due to better gas mileage. Menke noted the specifics were put out for vehicles that would have the hauling capacity the city needs, and further added vehicles with a V8 have, historically, gotten better trade-in value. Prior to approving the specifics, council voted to modify them to allow companies to bid a V6 or V8 truck. The specifics for the towing package were also modified, going from the 6,900-pound package to 8,000 pounds.

With regard to outdated equipment, council also approved a resolution to declare a 1970 snowblower and four-inch perforated French drain pipe as surplus, and authorized they be sold.

Also at the meeting, City Manager Yanker and Police Chief Lordino provided an update on the deer harvest program. The program is designed to cull the abundance of deer in the area, as there are concerns about property damage caused by the animals and the possibility they are infected with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Yanker said the city was able to coordinate with Game and Parks to implement the first phase of the program Monday morning. Game and Parks has provided a cooler trailer to store the culled deer until CWD test results come back. Deer that test negative for the disease are up for donation to the public. Twenty-two deer were culled Monday morning, Yanker said. There are still eight permits available, he noted, and will continue collaborating with Game and Parks to do a second culling in late October or early November.

Lordino said the police have been working with Game and Parks to identify areas to cull deer. Chosen this time were the city property by SWANN, property by the cement factory, along the railroad tracks — with safety precautions taken — and by the water treatment.

Before going on someone else’s property, Lordino said owners would be contacted; several were already contacted prior to deer culling at the treatment plant. The chief emphasized there are 250 head of deer inside the city limits of Chadron, and some spots have been identified where they believe they’ll have clean shots at appropriate times. All shots are done by law enforcement. When they go to the identified spots, they will be sure to contact property owners to gain their permission and let them know what’s going on.

With deer season coming up, Lordino assured folks they haven’t taken any large bucks. Tests for CWD will hopefully be back by the end of the week. Those who would like to get on the list for a donated deer can call 432-0510.

Yanker also provided an update on the community solar energy project. Unfortunately, he said, there has not been as much progress as was hoped over the past couple months. The property owner is still very interested in moving forward. He’s hoping to make some good headway now that the budget process is over.

Council member Cheryl Welch presented a list of municipalities that have completed solar projects, and questioned why council isn’t making the project more of a priority. It was pointed out that those on the list likely purchased the property prior to moving forward on a solar project. Mayor Miles Bannan further added the council chose a slow process, having a citizens involvement committee that necessitated several meetings. He is appreciative of the committee’s work, but wanted to clarify it did slow down the process.

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