A proposed ordinance that would shift responsibility for keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice from the Village of Hamburg to property owners met with a flurry of comments -- most of them negative -- during a public hearing Monday night.
Officials stressed that the village intends to continue plowing sidewalks but wants an ordinance in place requiring property owners to clear walks within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall in cases where it can't get to them.
Several residents in the audience of 25 questioned the need for the ordinance and asked who would enforce it.
"We come in peace. We want to work with you," Mayor Curt S. Herrmann said. There won't be "snow police" handing our summonses, but there might be notices left with persistent violators, he said.
Trustee Daniel S. O'Connell said the village is "asking residents to help us out," particularly around schools if village crews haven't cleared the walks yet.
Village Attorney Edward J. Murphy said the proposed ordinance is based on ones used elsewhere, including Amherst, Cheektowaga and East Aurora.
Having an ordinance can save a municipality from liability exposure in case of an accident, he said.
O'Connell said he hopes to establish a corps of volunteers to clear the walks belonging to the elderly and disabled.
Public Works Director Gerald E. Knoll said that if everything goes right, it takes his department five to seven hours to clear the streets and then another 20 hours to plow the 66 miles of sidewalks in the village.
The ordinance "sends a message that if you own property you have certain responsibilities, including sidewalks," Knoll said.
No action was taken. Herrmann said after the meeting that officials want to wait for additional comments and suggestions before making a decision.
In other action, the board:
Approved a community service program for young people who get in trouble with the law. Timothy McDonald, a Buffalo police detective, has volunteered to oversee the program, under which people ages 16 to 19 can be sentenced to do work around the village.
Heard Herrmann promise resident Michael Lamparelli of Kenton Place he would talk to officials of the Evans National Bank branch on Sunset Drive about a lighted sign that Lamparelli said shines into his back yard and family room. The Village Board has no control over the Zoning Board of Appeals, which approved the sign, O'Connell said.
Approved a site plan to allow SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Church on East Main Street to expand its parking lot by 49 spaces.