Shelby, Montana, USA

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shelby's New Challenge

NBMC Editor's Comments:
The new amendment to Title 9, Chapter .04 of the Shelby Municipal Code, Ordinance no. 794 seeks to increase safety for those out walking in winter. But does it really bring about that benefit or does it just increase the blood pressure of in town property owners? The basics of the new ordinance are as follows: The ordinance gives property owners a maximum of 24 hours after a snowstorm ends to clear the sidewalk abutting the property and used by the public of snow greater in depth than one inch. Property owners also have a maximum of 24 hours to remove any snow pack, any ice, any slush, any mud and any other threat to safe foot travel. If, for some reason, the snow and or ice cannot be reasonably removed, the owner must apply sand or other abrasive material to the sidewalk to make foot travel reasonably safe and repeat as needed. Failure to comply will give the City of Shelby the right to remove such threats to safe foot travel and assess the cost against the property. This ordinance also states that no notice to the owner of the premises is required. This is a paraphrased reading of the full ordinance. Contact the City of Shelby at 406.434.5222 to get a complete copy of this ordinance for your use and record. We at NBMC did... This ordinance all sounds fine and good until you look closer and give it more thought. First, who is to decide if the snow or ice can or cannot be reasonably removed? How much sand or "other" abrasive is needed? Also, for the many walkway areas all over town that have no concrete and are just dirt or grass covered, removal of "any mud" as stated in the ordinance is impossible. Then the biggest issue is the streets. When someone is out walking, they almost always have to cross a street. The city is not placing the same need for safety there. Sure, the city has been making an effort to clear some snow from the streets but this past winter many streets had near to a foot of heavy packed snow and ice. Not all streets were ever cleared or sanded. Also, the city did put out some sand at busy intersections and up some streets, but the main basis for that is to help vehicle tire footing not pedestrian. Some sand under human foot can actually be like walking on kids marbles and cause one to slip and fall. Beyond the practical or in this case, the impractical, implementation of this ordinance is the headache and financial burden placed on the common property owner. If the city has as much trouble clearing the streets and alleys because of practical and financial reasons, how will it be for the property owners who are now expected to hold to a much, much higher level with their sidewalks??? This amendment does not address the issue it was intended to and thus is not helping the citizens of Shelby.
Gus Robertson
Editor in Chief

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