City of Wheeling Starts Shoveling Out Snow Citations

WHEELING –At least 10 downtown building owners received notice Tuesday for violating Wheeling’s new sidewalk snow removal mandate, meaning they could face fines of $175 per labor hour if Wheeling officials clear the paths today.

City Manager Robert Herron and Mayor Glenn Elliott also said they are committed to complying with their own law, as Herron said he deployed workers to clear the sidewalks in front of the city-owned buildings in the 1400 block of Market Street and the 1100 block of Main Street.

“We did all of the property in the morning,” Herron said after Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“Owning a building in a business district comes with responsibility,” Elliott added.

On Tuesday, Herron said city code enforcers earlier in the day had issued 10 notices of violation to owners of Main Street structures in the stretch from 10th to 16th streets. He said Tuesday was the very first day this occurred, as the ordinance became effective in December. Any snowfall prior to New Year’s weekend was not significant enough to warrant inspection, he said.

Despite the violation notices, Herron said he believes the ordinance is serving its purpose.

“In my personal observation, it seems that more of them are clear than they would have been when it snowed before the ordinance,” he said.

Specifically, the requirement applies to those who own buildings in these areas:

∫ Water, Main, Market and Chapline streets from 10th to 23rd streets in downtown and Center Wheeling;

∫ Zane Street on Wheeling Island; and

∫ most of National Road in Elm Grove.

Herron said most of the part-time employees who cut grass for the city are now shoveling sidewalks in the event the structure owners do not perform the work within 24 hours of accumulation.

According to the ordinance, the city charges $175 per labor hour for the work, in addition to 6 percent interest if the property owner fails to pay the bill within a year.

“This is not meant to raise revenue. We have to make our downtown and business districts more welcoming and safer,” Elliott said. “We also have a lot of elderly people living downtown. We have to make the sidewalks as safe as possible for them.”

In another matter, Elliott said the city’s Finance Department collected a total of 457 cans, boxes, jars and bags during the “Food for Fines” program, which allowed those who received parking tickets from Dec. 20 through Monday to donate five cans of food in lieu of paying a $10 fine.

Elliott said the city waived 39 parking citations, meaning some violators donated well in excess of the five-can requirement. Officials distributed the items to local food pantries to serve those in need.

“We thank Councilman Brian Wilson for the idea, and look forward to doing the program again in December,” Elliott said.

Elliott also said he is still working on forming a new a new group which he plans to call the “Committee on Heritage Port Optimization,” which he said will explore ways to utilize the area between Water Street and the Ohio River more effectively.

Officials have said this could ultimately lead to fees being imposed on those who hold events at the port, with the goal being to use the generated funds for upgrades at the venue.