As snowstorms hit Centennial neighborhoods, some residents began asking city council representatives why the city does not require residents to remove snow from their sidewalks.
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Residents can contact city council members at any time by emailing or calling them. Their contact information is listed online: bit.ly/centennialcouncil.
The city is divided into four districts, with two city council representatives for each district. If a resident is unsure which district they live in, they can use the city’s property search website to find out: centennialco.gov/Online-Services/Property-Search.
Community members can also attend city council’s regular meetings and voice their opinions during the public comment portion of the meeting. Council meetings are generally held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at Centennial Civic Center.
Unlike cities such as Denver, Aurora and Littleton, Centennial does not have an ordinance requiring residents to remove snow from sidewalks. Rather, the city “strongly encourages citizens to remove snow from the sidewalks adjoining their property within 24 hours after a snowstorm ends,” its website states.
Councilmember Tammy Maurer brought up the topic during the city council’s Jan. 10 meeting, saying she’s gotten questions in previous years as well.
“I understand there’s pros and cons to putting an ordinance in place,” she said.
Some of the pros include promoting walkability and increasing safety for pedestrians on the sidewalks, she said. On the other hand, for people who have physical disabilities or who are older and cannot shovel their sidewalks, an ordinance presents challenges.
“The bottom line that I always consider is: What would that mean for the city staff to do that code enforcement, you know, and how is that managed?” Maurer said.
Mayor Stephanie Piko, who noted some homeowners associations (HOAs) in the city do require shoveling, said she thinks the challenge of an ordinance is enforcement.
“It is a challenge to enforce something that melts most of the time,” she said.
Councilmember Mike Sutherland said he grew up in Denver, where the city has an ordinance that residents have to shovel their sidewalk within 24 hours after snow stops falling.
“I just think enforcement is really tough. I don’t ever remember seeing anybody from the City and County of Denver come out and actually give somebody a ticket, a resident, for not shoveling the snow,” he said. “I just don’t see it as a practical measure to pass an ordinance like that.”
Councilmember Christine Sweetland said she is not sure an ordinance would result in more people shoveling their sidewalks.
“How many people are not shoveling their snow because there’s no ordinance? That, if all of a sudden we have an ordinance, they’re going to start shoveling?” Sweetland asked. “I just don’t see an ordinance changing that.”
Although the council reaffirmed it will not pursue a snow removal ordinance for residents, a few council members mentioned some alternatives to encourage shoveling and clearing walkways.
Piko recommended an app called “Shovler,” where residents can hire a shoveler for their residence or become a shoveler themselves.
Councilmember Robyn Carnes said she wonders if there is a way to extend community grants to neighborhoods so they can purchase a tool like a snowblower for the neighborhood.
“Let’s go beyond, think creatively, to help our citizens,” Carnes said.
Centennial has two community grant programs — the Neighborhood Engagement Grant, which provides grants of up to $500, and the Large Community Improvement Grant, which offers up to $10,000 for a larger-scale project. To teach residents how to apply for the large grant program, there will be two informational meetings held in February.
Carnes also mentioned volunteers are needed for Arapahoe County’s program, “Dig Out Your Neighbor.” Under this program, volunteers shovel the driveways and walking paths of the homes of older adults and people with disabilities. Residents interested in volunteering can find more information at: bit.ly/shovelvolunteer.
“I’m thinking that maybe there’s some other ideas we can explore,” Maurer said. “I thank you for the discussion.”
Those interested in learning more about the city’s snow and ice control plan, such as which streets the city plows, can visit: bit.ly/snowqa. To learn more about the city’s community grants and its upcoming informational meetings, visit: bit.ly/grantmeetings.
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