By Rosemary K. Otzman
Former Belleville City Councilman Brian Blackburn told the council on Monday that he thinks it’s time to revisit the idea of a Snow Emergency ordinance for the city.
The council had discussed this in the past, but never acted upon it.
He said the DPW can’t clear the streets properly when people park out on the streets and the plows have to go around them leaving mounds of snow until spring.
Blackburn lives in Victoria Commons and is a volunteer fire fighter and said he sees what happens. He said people could park in their driveways during the snow removal, but they don’t.
A Snow Emergency ordinance would require that once a snow emergency is declared people had to park off the street during snow removal or be ticketed and/or towed.
Councilwoman Kim Tindall agreed such an ordinance was needed.
Councilman Tom Fielder said the threat would be “to move off the street so we can plow,” but he doesn’t think J&T Towing would want to come into such a situation.
Brian Copsey said from the audience that instead of towing, the city could “throw on a $25 ticket.”
Councilwoman Tindall agreed that people could be warned, “This will happen if you don’t move and give them a $25 ticket the first time and then a $50 ticket the second time.”
She said the city uses Nixle to alert residents and could use it to declare a Snow Emergency. She said the city needs a really strong “public awareness thing,” especially about using Nixle. (Anyone can sign up for Nixle alerts without charge by going to Nixle.com .)
Mayor Pro-Tem Jack Loria said some people park on the street during snow removal because they get blocked in by the snow thrown up by city plows over their driveway entrances.
Belleville Fire Chief Brian Loranger said when the county plows West Columbia Avenue at Five Points it throws slush right up over his sidewalk at his business.
“I don’t want to be a big ogre,” Tindall said, “but it’s a safety issue.”
Mayor Kerreen Conley said the council will look at Snow Emergency and other weather issues in coming meetings.
Chief Loranger said he had problems with the way the snow was removed at the fire hall. He said he had to bring equipment to the hall to remove snow because the city hadn’t done so.
He said the city’s protocol is to wait until they get four inches of snow before plowing and wait until the storm stops before plowing. He said if there is more than an inch at the fire hall it’s difficult to get equipment in and out of the hall.
He said the DPW has to remove the snow all the way up to the fire hall doors or the fire fighters have to shovel the snow themselves.
Chief Loranger said the police department had its driveway plowed by a personal service last week.
Councilwoman Tindall said maybe there should be a protocol for the DPW since the director lives out of the area and DPW workers living locally could see better what the local conditions are.
Mayor Conley said the DPW crews started snow removal at 10 p.m. Sunday.
Chief Loranger said on Sunday night, they had to get the DPW to shovel a patient out of a home on Roland Street because the Huron Valley Ambulance and fire department emergency crews couldn’t get to the house because the street was so bad.
In other business at Monday’s 28-minute meeting the council:
• Approved the 2014 Cruisin’ on the Bayou Car Show for 5-9 p.m. Mondays from June through September, with the closing of Main Street between Third and Fifth, part of Fourth and Roys Street (to the alley), and use of Fourth Street Square. Brian Copsey said he’d like to see more nonprofits use the Fourth Street Square during the event to raise money for their projects or adopt dogs out like Friends of Michigan Animals Rescue did last summer. Chief Loranger said there was a safety issue of cars moving around on the street when it is closed down. Loria agreed those at the car show can’t walk in the middle of the street anymore because of moving vehicles. Copsey said they would address that problem;
• Approved accounts payable of $153,684.62 and departmental purchases in excess of $500: to Argus-Hazco, $740.40 for repair of gas monitors for the fire department; to Blue Ribbon Contracting, $4,000 for leaf disposal; to Code Savvy, $750 for plan review for building department; to Johnston Lithograph, $621 for office supplies; to J&T Aggregate, $540 for concrete removal for the water department; to Metro Environmental, $1,213.75 for vactor service for the water department; and to R.L. Evans Electric, $1,685 for repair/replacement of lights;
• Heard Loria say he was uncomfortable about the $4,000 disposal charge approved that evening to Blue Ribbon for picking up the residents’ leaves. He said in Gaylord, residents bring their leaves to the DPW and dump them there. The DPW turns the pile and when it is compost, the residents can pick it up and use it in their yards. Mayor Conley said the usual problem is where to put it because nobody wants it in their backyards. Suggestions included the old skate park and the city lot next to the DPW yard where the house burned down. Loria asked the council to look at the idea to see if it’s feasible and if it could work;
• Heard the mayor thank people in the city who move snow for their neighbors, including her neighbor who hand-shoveled snow from her burned house that is awaiting repairs;
• Heard Tindall ask about the considerate amount of Board of Review refunds on the voucher list. Mayor Conley said in December the Board of Review deals with clerical errors or those who didn’t get their Homestead Exemption when they should. Clerk/Treasurer Lisa Long said there is a new veteran exemption and one person has applied; and
• Heard City Manager Diana Kollmeyer is enjoying the warm weather in Florida during her vacation days there.
By Rosemary K. Otzman