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Clear your sidewalk

Al Edenloff | Echo Press John Hull cleared off a sidewalk along Irving Street Tuesday after a snowstorm dumped between three to five inches of snow in the area. Because of strong winds, drifts quickly formed in driveways and sidewalks.1 / 2
Al Edenloff | Echo Press2 / 2

If you don't clear your sidewalk of snow, consider this is a warning.

Alexandria is cracking down on those who violate its snow ordinances this winter.

City ordinances state that after snow ceases to fall, property owners have 24 hours to clean off their sidewalks - or the city will do it for them and hand them the bill.

The ordinance applies to all businesses and property owners with sidewalks, according to Bryan Bjorgaard, public works director.

He contacted the newspaper on Tuesday in the wake of a winter storm that dumped three to five inches of snow on the Alexandria area. Heavy winds added to the task of digging out by creating big drifts that kept reforming.

People also have to be mindful of where they are depositing the snow. They can't just dump it into the street - that's another no-no in the city's ordinances.

"We've had businesses push their whole parking lot full of snow onto the street," Bjorgaard said. "That can't happen anymore."

If people see sidewalks that are blocked by snow or see someone depositing snow on a public street, they're encouraged to call the street department at (320) 763-3080.

Here are some of the key sections of the city's snow removal ordinances:

Ice and snow - a nuisance. All snow and ice remaining upon public sidewalks is hereby declared to constitute a public nuisance and shall be abated by the owner or tenant of the abutting private property within 24 hours after such snow or ice has ceased to be deposited.

City to remove snow and ice. The city may cause to be removed from all public sidewalks, beginning 24 hours after snow or ice has ceased to fall, all snow and ice which may be discovered thereon, and it shall keep a record of the cost of such removal and the private property adjacent to which such accumulations were found and removed.

Cost of removal to be assessed. The city clerk shall, upon direction of the council... extend the cost of such removal of snow or ice as a special assessment against the lots or parcels of ground abutting on walks which were cleared, and such special assessments shall at the time of certifying taxes to the county auditor be certified for collection as other special assessments are certified and collected.

Civil suit for cost of removal. The city clerk shall, in the alternative, upon direction of the council, bring suit in a court of competent jurisdiction to recover from the persons owning land adjacent to which sidewalks were cleared, as provided in Subdivision 2 hereof, the cost of such clearing and the cost and disbursements of a civil action therefor.

Placing snow or ice in public streets or on other city property. It is unlawful for any person, not acting under a specific contract with the city, to remove snow from private property and place the same on a public street in such quantity, or in such manner, as to cause a hazard to travel, without adequate arrangements for the immediate removal thereof; and it is also unlawful for any person not acting under a contract with the city to dump snow on other city property.

Removal of snow creating visual obstructions. The city chief of police shall, upon finding that snow piled upon private parking facilities constitutes a nuisance to traffic on adjacent public streets by causing visual obstructions, have authority to order removal of the said snow piles. The chief shall thereupon give written notice of such a finding to the property owner or tenant, and if such snow and ice is not removed by the owner within a period of 24 hours from the notice herein provided for, the city may remove the snow or snow piles. The cost for snow removal shall be recovered from the owner of the property upon which the snow is located. The costs shall be recovered by either payments directly to the city or as a special assessment and such assessments shall be certified to the county auditor for collection as other special assessments are certified and collected.


To help snow removal efforts, drivers are encouraged to move their vehicles off city streets after a significant snowfall.

The police department will place "red tag" warnings on vehicles parked along streets that are hampering snowplow efforts. Owners then have 24 hours to move the vehicles or they may be towed at the owner's expense.

This week, police officers red-tagged 86 vehicles, according to Chief Rick Wyffels.

If a snow emergency is declared, which did not happen during the latest snowfall, the city has the authority to immediately tow any vehicles parked on city streets that are impeding snow removal efforts.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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