Wheeling City Council Approves Snow Removal Mandate

Photo by Casey Junkins Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron speaks during the Tuesday city council meeting at Bridge Street Middle School.

WHEELING — Chris Hamm says he does his best to remove snow from the sidewalk in front of his Market Street business, so he’s not worried about city officials charging him $175 per hour to remove it — he just wants Wheeling workers to take better care of the streets during wintry conditions.

After several weeks of discussion, members of Wheeling City Council voted unanimously during their Tuesday meeting to approve a new sidewalk snow removal mandate for those who own downtown buildings. The city has had a snow-removal ordinance on the books since 1951, but now, if the owners do not comply within 24 hours, city employees can show up to do the work and the property owner will receive a bill of $175 per labor hour, along with 6 percent interest if the bill is not paid within a year.

In addition to downtown, the new law also applies to sidewalks in the Centre Market area, Zane Street on Wheeling Island and National Road in Elm Grove.

Hamm addressed his concerns with council during a public hearing prior to the Tuesday vote. He has no problem with the new law, but said city workers need to stop piling up snow and ice in front of businesses.

“It sits there and gets so frozen that I can’t shovel it,” Hamm told council members during the meeting at Bridge Street Middle School. “I want to see people be able to get out of their cars to get to our businesses.”

Elliott said officials will do their best not to hold business owners responsible for any snow that city workers may pile on the sidewalk.

“It will be a work in progress,” Elliott said.

City Manager Robert Herron said he envisions enforcement of the program being similar to the mandate for grass cutting, adding that code administrators will record violations.

“We’re hoping to hold over our grass-cutting staff to have them around for snow removal,” Herron said of the mostly part-time workers.

The ordinance passed Tuesday removes the $500 fine associated with violations of the prior snow-removal law, so any fines will be based only on the $175-per-labor-hour charge.

In another matter Tuesday, council also unanimously approved the creation of a tax increment financing district around Ohio Valley Medical Center to fund $4 million worth of upgrades at the Center Wheeling parking garage, which is attached to OVMC by a walking bridge that spans Chapline Street. Hospital and city leaders believe improving the garage is essential to help the health care facility succeed.

California-based Alecto Healthcare Services completed a $36 million acquisition of the financially challenged OVMC on June 1, a step city leaders believe helped save at least 1,000 jobs. The TIF district is possible because Alecto is a for-profit company, which will also pay the city a business and occupation tax of 17 cents for every $100 of gross income at the hospital.

Herron said the garage is safe, but needs attention. Officials originally planned to use a portion of the TIF revenue to demolish the former nurses’ residence at OVMC, but Alecto officials said they would pay the full cost of this work after cost estimates for the garage repairs came in higher than originally expected.

Council’s next regular session is set 5:30 p.m. Dec. 19 on the first floor of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.