By LINDA WOODLAND
When the snow falls and the city plows take to the streets, vehicles parked along curbs become problematic for snow removal.
It also becomes problematic for the owners of vehicles that get buried in more snow as city plows attempt to clear streets.
According to Fostoria ordinance 351.14, the mayor or director of public service and safety can declare an emergency whenever snow accumulation of two inches or more exists on streets within the city.
And Safety Service Director DebHellman has done just that — declared a snow emergency.
During the emergency all vehicles are to be removed from the odd numbered side of the street if the calendar day is an even numbered day or on the even numbered side of the street if the calendar day is an odd numbered day.
So for today’s snow emergency, all vehicles parked on the even numbered side of streets are to be removed because today is an odd numbered day. On Friday, vehicles parked on the odd numbered side of the street are to be removed for the plows.
“We know getting vehicles off the streets so the plows can clear them can be an inconvenience to our residents, but streets cleared of snow benefits everyone, especially emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks. If these vehicles are needed at your home, you’d appreciate it if they can get there quickly,” Mayor Eric Keckler said.
Failure to comply with the snow emergency could lead to vehicles being towed at the owner’s expense, the ordinance states.
“Whoever violates this section shall be guilty of a minor misdemeanor punishable by the following mandatory fines: for a first offense, a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00); for a second offense, a fine of one hundred dollars ($100.00); for a third and all subsequent offenses, a fine of one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00). For purposes of this section, each twenty-four hour period constitutes a separate violation of this offense,” the ordinance states.
“We don’t want to tow or fine people. We just want to ensure the streets are clear for travel,” Keckler said.
But once the street is plowed, it isn’t necessarily okay to return vehicles to parking on the street. According to the ordinance, the emergency remains in effect until one of the city officials terminates it.
In addition, it’s required by city law that residents keep sidewalks clear of snow and ice.
But don’t rush right out in the middle of a storm with shovel in hand. The city ordinance states sidewalks should be cleared within a reasonable amount of time.
“Which will ordinarily not exceed twenty-four (24) hours after the abatement of any storm during which the snow and ice may have accumulated. Whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. Each day’s violation shall constitute a separate offense,” the ordinance reads.
“Be careful clearing snow and ice from walks. We don’t want anyone hurting themselves,” the mayor said, adding elderly or disabled neighbors may need a helping hand to clear their side walks. “Neighbors helping neighbors is the heart of Fostoria.”