Snow removal and other topics concerning the environment were discussed at the Ann Arbor City Council meeting Monday night.
Resident Robert Gordon, who was awarded Ann Arbor’s Green Fair volunteer of the month award, spoke about local landfill space and ideas on how to make use of it.
“There’s going to come a day when we are going to realize that landfill space could be park space, could be places where there’s affordable housing, could be places where there’s retail,” Gordon said. “… we’re wasting it on garbage — most of which is recyclable or compostable. There’s a lot of work to do.”
One of the main topics on the meeting’s agenda was the city’s current snow removal policy. The current legislation states that property owners are required to remove snow more than one inch deep from public sidewalks. If an owner fails to remove it, the city issues a notice to the owner to do so and, if after 24 hours the sidewalk isn’t cleared, the city removes it. Ann Arbor’s Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force recommended changes to this policy.
One of the proposed changes is to require property owners to remove snow even if the snowfall does not reach more than one inch. This change would hold property owners responsible for clearing ice from their sidewalks.
Members of council had differing opinions of the proposed policy change while others expressed concern for other aspects of the city’s snow removal ordinance. Councilmember Jane Lumm (I–Ward 2) said she wasn’t comfortable with the policy’s method of warning residents to remove their snow. Lumm said she thought only one warning was not enough and asked other councilmembers what alternatives were available.
Lumm said some snow removal contractors and services don’t remove snow until two inches have fallen. She also said she was concerned that seniors, the disabled, and those who spend time out of the city wouldn’t see the single snow removal warning issued by the city, and would therefore be unable to meet the local snow removal standards and, as a result, be unfairly fined.
“It just doesn’t seem reasonable that on a second occurrence a person should be fined $250 to $500 plus costs to remove,” Lumm said.
Mike Anglin (D–Ward 5) said there needs to be better legislation for snow removal than the city’s current policy. He argued, because many Ann Arbor residents rent and may be in apartment housing, the responsibility of snow removal should fall on the owner, not the occupant.
“I can’t see this as something I’d be willing to take a look at right now and push this obligation onto elderly people and people with limited incomes who then would have to hire people to have this done,” said Mike Anglin. “It’s another type of taxation which I would not like see.”
The council scheduled a working session for this fall to work out the details of the snow removal ordinance.
Council also addressed resolutions concerning sustainability. One resolution approved by council confirmed a contract with the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, a local organization focused on environmental sustainability, to educate children in Ann Arbor and Dexter public schools about recycling.
Members of council discussed the importance of using Ann Arbor tax revenue to educate Dexter children: the water from Dexter comes to Ann Arbor, polluted or clean.
Councilmember Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) asked a representative from the Ecology Center to confirm that the education of Dexter schoolchildren was meant to benefit Ann Arbor’s environment.
“We could provide this education only in Ann Arbor classrooms, but we wouldn’t be able to address the impact other communities have on our drinking water if we focused only on providing education in the city of Ann Arbor,” Briere said.
“Our ability to collaborate with the Dexter Public School system to provide a small intervention and educational program in their second-grade classrooms is an asset for the city and benefits the city — correct?” said Briere.