Parowan residents not all happy about new snow removal ordinance

Stock photo of a woman shoveling snow in front of a house | St. George News

PAROWAN – Some residents of Parowan’s downtown area were surprised recently when they received a letter from the city reminding them they are responsible for their own snow removal, something the city always handled until its City Council passed an ordinance otherwise in March 2014 on advice of the city’s insurance agency.

The ordinance was passed March 13, 2014, in a unanimous vote of the City Council according to council meeting minutes, despite discussion about vacant homes and elders who may be unable to remove the snow on their own.

“Hopefully they have nice neighbors that will take care of them,” Parowan City Manager Shayne Scott said. “If not, they would need to make arrangements to have that done.”

Though the ordinance was passed almost a year ago, Scott said, many residents seemed unaware of the shift in responsibility. So, a letter was drafted Jan. 7 and issued one to each house in the downtown area.

Snow removal is a service that has always been provided to residents by the city, Scott said. It was a difficult decision for the city to make because it felt like losing a small piece of what made the city so unique, he said.

Resident Bob Giles said he believes the city is transferring liability to homeowners to appease the insurance companies. The only reason to pass such a frivolous would be as a way of setting precedent so that other communities could follow suit, he said.

“This blows my mind,” he said. “How can a city pass a resolution to pass the responsibility of keeping these public sidewalk free of ice and snow to the property owners?”

This would mean that the property owners could then be sued when somebody slips and falls,” he added.

Despite Giles’ fears of liability, Scott said, the truth is, liability will not change. He said homeowners have always been liable if an injury occurs at, or in front of, their home. It is up to the injured party who they decide to go after.

According to the council minutes, the issue of liability transfer was a part of the March 13, 2014, discussion, in which City Attorney Justin Wayment clarified that legal responsibility has always been the homeowner’s responsibility.

“What people need to understand is that they are liable,” the city attorney said. “They are better off to go out and shovel their sidewalks because, from a legal standpoint, they are liable if someone slips, falls and is injured on their property.”

The bottom line is, Scott said, the city’s insurance company made it abundantly clear that if they continued to remove snow from these sidewalks, the insurer would not cover any potential lawsuits that are filed against the city – which would leave the burden of coverage entirely on the city and the taxpayers.

“When they found out that we’re providing this as a service, they immediately advised us to stop,” he said. “They told us that no other city provides this as a service and by doing so we were placing ourselves in a position of liability without coverage.”

By comparison, Cedar City Attorney Paul Bittman said that Cedar City has never provided snow removal as a service. He said there is an ordinance in place that requires residents to remove their snow within 24 hours or the city could potentially issue a citation through code enforcement for not following the ordinance.

“SECTION 27-17. Cleaning Sidewalks. It shall be unlawful for any occupant or owner of any property abutting on any street, within the platted portion of this City, to neglect or fail to clean and keep clean of all weeds, ice, or snow or rubbish, the sidewalks and walkways abutting on his premises.”

To the best of his knowledge, Bittman said, the ordinance Cedar City has in place is fairly standard across the board. In fact, he has never lived in a place where the city provided snow removal before, he said.

Though snow removal for residents and businesses will no longer be provided in Parowan, Scott said, the sidewalks in front of all city-owned public spaces will continue to be maintained by the city.

“It’s going to take some adjusting,” he said. “But this is a community that pulls together and so I know once we get used to it, everything will work out for the best.”

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21 Comments

  • 375ultra January 16, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I would now just remove the sidewalk and install a fence.

  • UTCOWBOY January 16, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Well I know the city of Phoenix does not provide snow removal service and neither does Miami and Las Vegas doesn’t have that service either

  • M and M cookies January 16, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    I lived in New England and you had to shovel your own sidewalk, and if you didn,t you were fined. And also responsible if mailman fell or school kids etc..

  • Andi January 16, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Whah! I lived in Colorado for 20 years and no one ever removed my snow. If I didn’t do it myself I had to pay someone. Fortunately, I was eventually able to buy a snow thrower and also did the driveway of my elder neighbors.

  • Rich January 16, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    When I lived in SLC it was the owners responsibilty…and again punishable by a fine…

  • Frosty Snowman January 16, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Quit being so lazy (and expecting the government to do it) and go shovel the sidewalk. Geez, the people who claim to be such great volunteers are proving themselves to be greatly lazy. Last December after the ice and snow storm, I was the only person on my entire street who shoveled the snow and put salt & gravel on the sidewalk to melt the ice. Did it for two neighbors, too. No government nor church volunteered to do it.

  • BULLY January 16, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    The person responsible for suggesting the city should do it, way back when, should be dug up out of the grave and slapped around a little. I bet this same person thought it reasonable to have the city be charged with cleaning up dog turds and road apples too.

  • My Evil Twin January 16, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Here is a little different take on it. Regardless of what any other municipality does, or does not do, if the custom has been for the city to provide this service, and they are no longer to provide it, your taxes were just increased. Unless they rebate part of the tax.
    I don’t care in the least what Parowan does, I’m just throwing my two cents in here.

    • EVIL TWINS MOMMY January 16, 2015 at 10:49 pm

      Ahhh you poor thing you only have 2 cents worth my little pathetic lunatic

    • BULLY January 16, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Now that makes sense to me Evil One. Thanks for your 2 cents.
      Here’s a thought– Who owns the side walks? Who’s job is it to repair cracks should they appear? Are the folks living in the boondock areas of Parawon required to clear the dirt road side areas or their front porch? I didn’t think so.

      • koolaid January 17, 2015 at 1:56 pm

        If the sidewalk has a crack and someone trips and is injured, the homeowner will be liable. Same with snow and ice.

  • arts and letters January 16, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    Never lived in a place where the city did the shoveling for private property. That includes Maine, Massachusetts eastern Oregon and Washington where there’s plenty of snow. Don’t know how this got started in Parowan or why, but they’ve just been brought back to reality. Now leaving Pleasantville.

  • Bobber January 16, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Maybe they can ask Obama to do it at the same time he comes to take the guns?

    • koolaid January 17, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Obama will take their snow shovels

  • Justme..... January 17, 2015 at 5:58 am

    I was there in the great storm of Christmas 2014. Everyone who could shovel was out there doing it and most people did not seem to know where to throw the snow, etc. My instinct is that neighborhood kids are gonna make bank in the wintertime.

  • Mary January 17, 2015 at 7:32 am

    While I have only lived in places where the city plows the streets but people take care of the sidewalks ,
    On the liability issue . . . I have never heard of a homeowner sued because of a slippery sidewalk .
    Personally , I believe most adults Know snow & ice are hazardous and most wear the appropriate footwear .
    How many homeowners have been sued by someone wearing the wrong shoes who fell on their sidewalk ?

  • The BoyFriend January 17, 2015 at 11:08 am

    In Miami we sniffed all the snow

    • One for the road January 17, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      The only problem with that kind of snow is that it doesn’t fall from the sky unless it’s flown in from Columbia

  • MmmBacon January 17, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Now the neighborhood grouch can yell at kids “GET OFF MY SIDEWALK!” in the winter.

    • EVIL TWINS MOMMY January 17, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      Oh it’s quite clear your talking about My Evil Twin

  • Caligirl January 19, 2015 at 12:54 am

    If the sidewalk is “public” property, I don’t understand how or why a homeowner should be held liable if someone is injured. The homeowner does not own the sidewalk, their homeowners insurance does not cover a public sidewalk so why be held liable? If this is the case then I’d say it should be left to the homeowners discretion as to whether or not to keep the sidewalk or remove it and put up a fence to better protect your self from possible lawsuit!…….. now don’t get me wrong, I do think that people who choose to live in areas where it snows, you should be responsible and remove the snow from areas where there is heavy foot traffic but I doin not feel a homeowner should be held responsible for an injury that occurred on property in which they do not own!

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