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Residents may face snow fine

Melissa Flanagan | Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A snow removal ordinance recently passed in of South Bend may penalize off-campus students who do not clear their sidewalks in front of their houses within 24 hours of snow accumulation.

Student body president Catherine Soler said the new ordinance reinforces a policy that was already in place in South Bend.

“It’s been a long conversation in community meetings about people not shoveling their sidewalks, not just students but everyone,” Soler said.

The new ordinance will impose a fine of $15 to start and $25 for noncompliance if a sidewalk is not cleared within 24 hours after snowfall, according to The South Bend Tribune.

Soler said student government believes off-campus students choose to be a part of the South Bend community and therefore assume all the responsibilities of a regular resident.

“We are members of the community,” Soler said. “If we want to be respected in other ways we have to participate as a normal citizen would.”

Although students will be responsible for their sidewalks while school is in session, student government is in the midst of figuring out how to help students over breaks, Soler said.

“We want to make sure that students who are away over break aren’t penalized,” Soler said. “Hopefully we can work out a system and provide volunteers.”

Soler said the University hopes to create a volunteer system to help both off-campus students and those in the local community who are not able to shovel outside their homes. This project was still in planning stages, but Soler said Notre Dame and other local colleges want to set up a database of students willing to be contacted after snowfall in the area.

The various leasing companies around Notre Dame have different policies regarding shoveling. Mark Kramer, owner of Kramer Properties, said his policy is to shovel snow for students over breaks and after the heaviest snowfalls, but his tenants are responsible for clearing their sidewalks after light snowfall.

“If it’s just a light snow then it’s in their lease that students will take care of that part themselves,” Kramer said.

Senior Elise Gerspach leased her off-campus house through Kramer Properties. She said she agrees Kramer should be responsible for shoveling over breaks and the students should be accountable for their sidewalks while they are at school. However, some companies will shovel for their tenants after any amount of snowfall.

“It’s definitely an annoyance especially considering our next-door neighbor’s landlord did shovel for them last time it snowed,” Gerspach said. “Their sidewalk was literally shoveled right up to the borderline between our houses.”

One such landlord is Campus Housing, a leasing company managed by Campus Apartments. Property manager Sean Conley said his company shovels for its residents throughout the winter.

“We make sure everything’s cleaned for our students,” Conley said. “We’re constantly removing snow from sidewalks and if they have driveways then clearing the driveways.”

Conley said Campus Houses takes pride in the fact that their maintenance staff and landscapers keep their sidewalks clean.

“We don’t want to make it our students’ responsibilities,” Conley said. “We just want people to feel safe walking out their doors.”

Driving on snowy roads is also a concern for many students. Gerspach said she would like to see the city become more efficient in their own removal of snow on the streets.

“Maybe if my car didn’t slide out of control on my way to campus every time it snows I’d be more willing to shovel my sidewalk,” Gerspach said.