I hope my neighbors enjoy the sound of my snowthrower at 3:00 in the morning--because they might hear it a lot more often from now on. The Oshkosh Common Council votes tonight on amending the city's snow and ice removal ordinance to require sidewalks be cleared by noon the day after a snow event--a requirment that could prove very difficult for someone with my work schedule to meet--without pissing off his neighbors.
I am usually here in the newsroom by four a-m at the latest every weekday. As you can imagine, getting up that early requires going to bed early--so if the snow continues past 8:00 or 9:00 at night, it's going to keep piling up until I get up in the morning. And since I work until 2:00 in the afternoon at the earliest during the winter (there's no incentive to leave any earlier to play golf) that leaves me those few minutes at three a-m to get out there and clear my sidewalk.
I'm sure it will be just a matter of time before one of my neighbors gets fed up with my early morning snow removal and calls the cops. So then I would have to weigh the penalties of failing to clear the walk versus the fine for violating city noise ordinances. I'm guessing the fine for noise will be less than the cost of having city crews clear the walk--so I'll keep 'throwin at 3:00 am. Unfortunately, if I continue to rack up noise citations, my house could be deemed a "nuisance property" and then I would fall into a new category of ordinance enforcement that would result in continuing harassment from several city departments.
I guess I could take the risk of not clearing the snow until I get home from work--but knowing the ruthless efficiency the city shows in doing something that might generate revenue, I fully expect public works crews to be on my street checking the sidewalks by 12:01 the day after a snow event--ready to catch violators. If the "Snow Police" would come through in an actual plow or a salt truck that would be appreciated--maybe our street wouldn't look like a hockey rink by the middle of December every year.
Maybe the city wants me to take vacation to make sure the sidewalks get clear by noon. I could take half-days--leaving at 8:00 a-m--"Sorry boss can't stay, gotta get the snow off my sidewalk again today." Unfortunately, with the way winter is going around here now, I would have to save all of my vacation time for November and December so I'm ready to clear several inches of snow every other day.
In the Council packet for tonight's meeting, I see City Manager Mark Rohloff and Public Works director David Patek have sent along a memo saying they can live without the noon deadline--so long as other requirements are are still placed in the ordinance. Let's hope the Council uses some common sense as well and adopts an ordinance with which all residents can comply--without making enemies in the neighborhood.