City issued nearly 800 citations for not clearing sidewalks of snow and ice in 2019; urging residents to do so or face $124 fine

Most of the citations are complaint-driven

Following this weekend’s snow event, the City of Madison is urging property owners to clear sidewalks of snow and ice sooner rather than later.

Last year, the city issued 781 citations to those who did not follow the sidewalk snow removal rules. The year before that, they issued 305.

“No one likes getting a ticket,” said City of Madison’s director of building inspection George Hank.

Hank said it’s important for property owners to clear the sidewalks as soon as possible for pedestrians, mail carriers and first responders. Hank added that the sooner you clear your sidewalks, the easier it will be to remove the snow before it turns into ice.

Hank said all the citations are complaint driven. There are no crews that go around town looking for unkempt sidewalks.

Madison’s city ordinance requires that sidewalks be cleared of all snow and ice no later than noon the day following each snowfall. For example, if snow starts to fall Monday morning and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday night, the sidewalk would need be cleared by noon Tuesday. If the snow continued into Tuesday morning, property owners would have until noon Wednesday to clear it.

There are no warnings given to property owners for having an uncleared sidewalk. The first citation is $124. The second is $187. The prices continue to go up every time a property owner is cited in a season.

If the property owner does not clear the sidewalk in a timely manner, the city will send a crew to do it and the property owner will be billed for it later on their property taxes.

Sidewalks must be cleared from edge to edge and all snow needs to be thrown on the lawn or terrace. It is illegal to put the snow into the street. When snow plows come by, property owners may notice additional snow has accumulated in an area they have just cleared. It is the property owner’s responsibility to clear that snow that was placed there from the snow plow.

Property owners who live on a corner lot are responsible for the entire sidewalk and ramp leading up to the crosswalk. You do not need to clear the crosswalk, however.

Hank said being on vacation does not exempt people from clearing their sidewalks. He suggests chatting with your neighbors to clear it for you, and you can return the favor later.

If you have a disability and cannot meet the city’s deadline of snow removal, you can call Building Inspection at (608) 266-4551 to be added to the 72-hour extension list.

“Prompt removal is always in your best interest,” Hank said.

The city has free sand available to help remove ice from sidewalks at 20 locations around Madison. You can find your nearest location here.

To report an uncleared sidewalk, you can visit the city’s Report a Problem page.

To sign up for alerts that tell you what the deadline is for snow removal after every snow event, you can do so here.

For all other information, you can visit the city’s snow removal FAQ page.

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