Kansas City officials began on Monday enforcing the city's ordinance requiring residents to clear sidewalks of snow.
The city began issuing warnings and gave property owners 48 hours to clear the sidewalks of snow.
The complaints are handled by the Neighborhood Preservation Division of the city's Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department. More than a dozen municipal workers were out Monday looking for snowy sidewalks that were in violation of the city's ordinance.
Penalties for those who do not comply with the ordinance will depend on the violation's severity. Most fines will likely range between $25 and $100.
The ordinances states, "It shall be the duty of all persons owning or occupying any real property, fronting upon any street, boulevard or highway, to remove from the sidewalks in front or alongside of such property all ice and snow within a reasonable time after cessation of a storm depositing such ice or snow."
Floyd and Colonel Blanford spent the day clearing the sidewalk outside their wheelchair-bound brother's home.
"We're shoveling off the snow so he won't get fined for it," Colonel Blanford said. "It's impossible for him to get out here, but we made it possible."
David Park, a deputy director who oversees neighborhood services, said about 60 complaints were filed Monday.
"We'll send out our code enforcement officers to investigate those complaints. When they find there is a violation, they'll provide a written formal complaint of a violation to that property owner or occupant, allow another 48 hours to bring it into compliance," Park explained. "If it's not in compliance at that point, they'll issue a summons or ticket."
The city is seeking the worst offenders and is not nitpicking every sidewalk in Kansas City, Park explained.
"They need to make it passable. We're going to focus more on the commercial streets, the busier streets, where people are having to walk in a busy street to be able to get where they need to go," Park said.
The code inspectors normally handle trash, tall grass or junk complaints. The city doesn't have snow blowers so they can't have workers clear the sidewalks.
It is unusual for Kansas City to get so much snow and for it to last so long on area surfaces.
"I don't remember the last time we went in with a violation of failure to remove snow from a sidewalk. It really isn't that common in Kansas City," Park said.
But in this case, they are now looking for mounds of snow have been cleared and now are blocking the sidewalk. Those mounds won't melt anytime soon. The concern is that some residents are being forced to walk in the street because they can't use snow-covered sidewalks.
Some are unhappy that the disabled are being forced to get the snow cleared and pay to do so.
Colonel Blanford said if his brother's family hadn't taken care of it then he would have been fined. He said it's wrong to punish those who can't physically take care of the issue themselves, especially if they can't afford to hire someone.
"I think you should give some leeway to get it cleared or if they're handicapped or can't get out to clean it, then there should be some alternative," he said.
A judge decides whether a fine is opposed after a court hearing in municipal court once a summons is issued.
Residents may make complaints regarding uncleared sidewalks to the 311 Call Center by calling 311 or 816-513-1313 or online at www.kcmo.org/311.
To view the sidewalk clearing ordinance online, click here.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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