Wellsburg revisits sidewalk ordinance

WELLSBURG – Over the last five months Wellsburg Council has talked about an ordinance requiring residents to keep their sidewalks clear, but it finally cleared its first hurdle Tuesday.

Council voted 4-3 on the first reading of the ordinance, which requires property owners to keep sidewalks in front of their homes or businesses clean and free “from any obstruction or other hazard.”

It also states the city manager or street superintendent shall notify those who fail to do so they will have at least one day to correct the problem. After that, either city official may arrange for the sidewalk to be cleared and charge the property owner for the cost.

Supporting the ordinance were 1st Ward Councilmen Bruce Hunter and Mike Mitchell and 2nd Ward Councilmen Brian Tennant and Paul T. Billiard. Opposing were 4th Ward Council members Charlie Harris and Della Serevicz and 3rd Ward Councilman Randy Fletcher.

Third Ward Councilman Tom R. Diserio didn’t attend the meeting.

Harris said he actually supports the measure but believes it should specifically cite snow, which had spurred the ordinance’s development.

He said the intention isn’t to punish people, particularly elderly residents who aren’t able to shovel the snow themselves, but to improve public safety by encouraging residents and business owners to maintain their property.

Fletcher has questioned whether Wellsburg Police have the manpower to enforce it.

But Harris said the idea is not that city officials would inspect areas for compliance but that the ordinance would give officials a means to address hazardous situations.

At various council members’ request, City Solicitor Bill Cipriani altered the ordinance since it was considered first in December.

For example, it originally said property owners must see that ice or snow that forms on the sidewalks must be cleared by 11 a.m. of that day.

But some council members said they heard from residents who were concerned about being able to meet that timeline.

In other business, council approved the second reading of an ordinance prohibiting dogs, cats and and other pets from special events held at Central Park.

Exceptions would be made for service animals, such as guide dogs, and animals involved in the event’s entertainment.

Supporting it were Hunter, Mitchell, Billiard, Tennant and Fletcher. Opposing it were Harris and Serevicz.

Hunter, who chairs the city’s ordinance committee, said it was proposed after some attending events at the park complained that the presence of several large dogs at park events last year made them uncomfortable.

Hunter said he’s not aware if the dogs posed a threat or left waste at the park but he was told there were occasions when several large dogs were there at one time.

The park was the location for several free concerts and a town run held by the Wellsburg 4th of July Committee as well as other events held by the city and other groups.

Harris said he sides with Diserio, who earlier said the presence of animals should be determined by an event’s organizers. But Harris said pet owners should be required to have them on a leash and in their direct control and shouldn’t leave them tied to a tree.

In other business, council:

Approved the purchase of about $2,800 of three round, rubber-coated round picnic tables for the Betty Carr Recreation Site and 1st Ward and 4th Ward parks.

Serevicz suggested purchasing wooden tables from the Brooke County Opportunity Center, but Billiard said unfortunately, wooden tables at the parks have been vandalized and removed. He said the new tables will be bolted down.

Approved the reappointment of Bill Garvey to the city’s urban redevelopment authority.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)