The Urbana City Council passed an ordinance on December 5, 2011 which requires property owners within identified snow removal districts to clear the adjacent public sidewalk of snow and ice. Sidewalk clearance must occur within 24 hours of a declaration made by the Public Works Director. After a winter storm, notice that the sidewalk clearance requirements are in effect will be issued through local media outlets and on the City's website.
For more information, view the Frequently Asked Questions below, click on the links to the ordinance and maps, or call the Environmental Compliance Officer at Urbana Public Works (217.384.2416).
If you wish to employ a snow removal service for sidewalk snow clearance, please consult the local telephone directory.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of this ordinance?
The goal of this ordinance is to maintain safe, passable sidewalks for the public to travel upon, even following winter storms.
When is the ordinance effective?
Enforcement of the ordinance will begin January 3, 2012.
What does the ordinance require me to do?
Property owners are required to clear public sidewalks adjacent to all sides of their property of snow and ice. The ordinance requires that a 48" path be cleared for the full frontage of the property. For those property owners adjacent to an intersection or public crosswalk, a path must be cleared to the street. This requirement is effective after a winter storm event of 2" or greater of snow or a declared ice event.
How will I know when these requirements are effective?
The City's Public Works Director will make an official declaration and send it to all news media outlets for announcement. Citizens can also visit the City's website for announcements. Impacted property owners can also be added to an e-mail notice list by contacting the Urbana Public Works Department at 217.384.2342.
What if it takes multiple storms to reach the 2" threshold?
The Public Works Director will make the determination of when the official declaration will be made for property owners to begin clearing the adjacent sidewalks.
How much time will I have to shovel the snow or clear the ice, sleet or freezing rain?
You will have 24 hours to clear sidewalks after the public announcement by the Public Works Director.
Where am I expected to put the snow?
You are expected to store the snow on your property, if possible. Otherwise, snow may be placed in the parkway between the sidewalk and the street curb. Please bear in mind that streets with on-street parking still need access to vehicles and parking meters. Your help in ensuring access is appreciated. Depositing snow onto City streets is prohibited.
What if I can't clear off the snow, ice, sleet or freezing rain because it has become too hard?
The ordinance requires you to spread sand, salt or other abrasive material and make a reasonable effort to clear the walk.
Will the City of Urbana comply with this requirement?
Yes. The City of Urbana will clear all sidewalks adjacent to City-owned properties.
How much of the sidewalk do I need to clear?
You are required to clear the full width of the sidewalk, or 48 inches (4 feet), whichever is less in width. You must clear the entire length of your property. Property owners on corner lots are also required to shovel paths to the nearest crosswalks.
What if I am out of town when it snows or I am physically unable to shovel?
Property owners are expected to have arrangements in place to have the adjacent sidewalk cleared if they are unable to personally attend to the matter.
What if the snow plow pushes snow back onto the sidewalks?
Typically the declaration to clear sidewalks will be made near the completion of street plowing activities. However, the ordinance states that owners must maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably clear manner after the initial clearance.
Does the passage of this ordinance increase civil liability?
The weight of legal authority (including the Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act 745 ILCS 75/1) indicates that the ordinance itself imposes no additional civil liability on individuals for shoveling snow. Like any legal question, there is no absolute answer that fits all circumstances.
What areas are covered by the three snow removal districts?
See the maps or ordinance.
Is there some way my neighbors and I can organize to clear an area?
Yes. Individual neighborhoods, streets, districts are free to contract for the removal system that best meets their needs. The City encourages this, however will not play a role in organizing such groups. Interested parties may contact the Public Works Department for a list of contractors or volunteers who are seeking to provide these services.
Do other communities have this requirement?
Yes, many cities in Illinois over 25,000 in population have similar requirements, as do cities in other Midwestern states.
What are the penalties?
If a person fails to clear snow, ice, sleet, or freezing rain, the City or its contractor will do it. After the City completes the work, the property owner will be billed for the City's cost, plus a fine and administrative costs. Fines start at $25 for a first offense and administrative fees are set at $55.
Will property owners by warned before the City clears the sidewalk?
The City will provide one warning per winter storm season to each property owner before clearing the sidewalk. A warning may come in the form of a personal visit, door hanger, or phone call. Such a warning gives the property owner an additional 24 hour before the City clears the sidewalk.
Who should people call with questions or to make a complaint?
Call the Environmental Compliance Officer at Urbana Public Works (217.384.2416) during regular business hours.