Dear Editor,

Your weekly survey asking readers if the city’s sidewalk snow removal ordinance should be enforced has prompted me to write.

I have no strong feelings about clearing residential walkways. But, as a downtown Maryville business owner for nearly 40 years, I have always taken pride in keeping the sidewalks in front of my shop free of ice and snow and have encouraged neighboring businesses to do the same. Downtown building occupants should not need the threat of prosecution to keep sidewalks safe for their customers.

However, because of a few who make little or no attempt to clear their sidewalks, I feel the city should enact a new ordinance pertaining specifically to the downtown business district, with a much harsher penalty.

As written, the ordinance (Section 545.210 Removal of Snow and Ice) makes no distinction between sidewalks in residential and commercial areas. The penalty (fine) for not clearing a sidewalk within 12 hours following a snowfall is “not less than one dollar ($1.00) nor more than ten dollars ($10.00) for each offense, and each and every day such sidewalks shall be obstructed by snow and ice shall be and constitute a separate offense, punishable by a separate penalty.”

I doubt that any individual or business has ever been prosecuted for violating the sidewalk snow removal ordinance. A drive around our community will show that it would take numerous city employees many hours to cite those individuals and businesses not in compliance with the current snow removal ordinance more than a week after our last snow. The ordinance as currently written is virtually unenforceable.

If we want the downtown business district to be more viable and inviting to customers, building owners and tenants need to provide a safe pedestrian access to their businesses. I feel the city should adopt an enforceable snow removal ordinance to ensure pedestrian safety within the business district.

–– Rod Couts