There might be a new set of rules in place the next time people in Keokuk have to get rid of snow from the sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses. And the city's mayor is worried the changes could discourage some residents from helping others.
"If you're [clearing sidewalks] for your neighbor [for] free or you're doing it to raise a little money, you are going to have to post $100,000 insurance and pay for a certificate," said Mayor Tom Marion. "I don't think that's what we meant to do."
Marion said the city's original idea was to protect the new sidewalks along Main Street, especially after people violated city code by driving large trucks on them to push away the snow a couple years ago. That prompted the city council's code revision subcommittee to draft a proposal that establishes what kind of vehicles can be used to clear sidewalks.
The ordinance states that during a snow event, only "garden tractors, compact utility tractors and all-terrain/utility-task vehicles (ATV/UTV)" can operate on a public sidewalks. There are size guidelines for the vehicles as well as requirements such as mufflers, headlights, safety flags, and slow moving vehicle signs.
But that's not where the ordinance ends. It also requires the people driving these vehicles to purchase an annual permit from the public works department ($75 for commercial/$25 for private citizen) and show proof of the following:
- The operator is at least 18 years old
- The operator has a valid drivers license
- The owner of the vehicle has insurance
Marion said there have been objections to the new rules, in particular surrounding the requirements for public citizens, but he believes the changes will be finalized by the Keokuk City Council Thursday night.
"I think the die is cast and we have what the city council wants and probably won't be any tweaks," said Marion. "There may be an attempt to tweak it, but I don't think that's going to happen."