Snowy sidewalks bringing hefty fines if not cleared in time

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EAU CLAIRE COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) - Cities in western Wisconsin said they're having a hard time getting property owners to clear snow and ice from their sidewalks and it could cost them.

The mounting snowfall has kept public works and police departments busy enforcing sidewalk clearing ordinances.

Fine amounts and time limits vary by location.

Black River Falls has seen a problem with several people not plowing all year. Violators saw a $50 fine after city staff did the work.

Eau Claire's fines are even higher. The street maintenance manager said the city has issued more than 325 warnings for snowy sidewalks this season, and about 30 had to be cleared, costing violators between $90 and $250.

Altoona city administrator Mike Golat said only two warnings were put out there.

“We have conscientious community members that take pride in their homes and do also look out for their neighbors so they get out and shovel most of the time,” Golat said.

“When the streets are narrowed up by the snow banks on the side and people are walking out on the road and the cars don't have as much room, it's very important that we give pedestrians a safe place to walk.”

In Eau Claire, property owners get 24 hours after a snowfall to clear the sidewalk, then they get warned. In five more days, the city could do the work and leave the property owner with the bill. Altoona has a similar policy.

In Black River Falls, they start clearing snow and issuing fines if it's not cleared in the day after the snow stops falling, according to Mayor Ron Danielson.