Helper's citizens should be aware that their snow removal methods may soon land them a nearly $300 fine.
At the Jan. 17 city council meeting, Mayor Mike Dalpiaz had some strong words for residents who mount four-wheelers after the white powder falls and push it into city streets or neighbors' driveways.
The mayor proposed enforcing a city ordinance that outlines citizen's snow cleanup responsibilities and levies a fine for violations.
"There have been a lot of complaints about people pushing the snow in the streets and sometimes pushing it all the way across the street," said Dalpiaz. "Then the person across the street pushing it back."
He added the four-wheelers create wind rows that are a hazard to the city's snow removal equipment.
"The rows left behind are breaking the frames of our snowplows," said Dalpiaz. "It's really making a mess."
The mayor acknowledged that residents also had some issues with the city's snow removal techniques, namely that snow plows weren't clearing a wide enough path on the streets.
It was explained that Helper has rookies behind the wheels of the plows and that the workers aren't quite seasoned enough to push the wet stuff closer to curbs.
But street width aside, Dalpiaz insisted that the city needed to come to some resolution about all the snow ending up near the middle of the street.
"It is your snow," said the mayor. "The good Lord gave it to you and you have to take care of it."
Dalpiaz pulled out a copy of an ordinance passed in 1988 that prohibits depositing snow, ice or mud more than three feet into the public street as measured from the edge of the roadway.
The punitive language for such violation reads:
"Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be guilty of misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $299 or imprisonment for not more than six months in the county jail or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court."
Councilmember Kirk Mascaro ran some interference for Helper's citizenry.
"Are people aware of this law?" asked Mascaro.
"If residents aren't, they will once it begins to be enforced," said Dalpiaz.
With talk of fines permeating the air, the mayor had the attention of the councilmembers and more than 30 residents who packed the meeting.
Councilmember Larry Ganser pointed out that this winter had been a particularly hard one making a case for leniency.
Dalpiaz wasn't swayed.
"Well 20 years ago, we had a lot more snow than this and we shoveled it into our pickup trucks to get rid of it," pointed out the mayor. "In those days, not every other house had a four-wheeler."
The discussion moved to sidewalks. Some residents expressed concern that people are not clearing the sidewalks and children are forced to walk in the streets to get to school.
Not one to be caught unprepared Dalpiaz brought another ordinance that outlined the rules for keeping sidewalks clear of a number of materials.
"This one will make it so they have to clean it up," he said while holding up ordinances in both hands.
With another law to consider, residents said that the people who don't have actual sidewalks should be included in the enforcement.
"There are property owners who don't have sidewalks and therefore they don't have to care about cleaning up the snow," a resident said from the audience.
Resident Marilou Kundmueller ventured into another snow-pile dilemma.
"The back approach to the junior high school has never been plowed," she said.
Dalpiaz told her that the city would definitely talk with the school about remedying that situation.
Injecting a conciliatory note into the meeting, resident Jason Marshall told the council that punitive measures might not really be necessary.
"I think what we should go for here is voluntary compliance," he said. "And the first part of that would educating the public. I bet most residents don't even know there are these laws."
After the debate finally fizzled the council approved a resolution to put notice of the upcoming enforcement in the city's utility bills and to exercise as many options as possible to get the word to Helper's masses, including information on the city's Web site www.helpercity.net.
For more information on the Helper's ordinances, residents may visit the website or call city hall at 472-5391.