Snow removal ordinance tabled

Esther Noe
At the Hill City Common Council meeting March 25, the ordinance amending Title Seven: Traffic and Streets; Chapter 7.22 Snow Removal and Maintenance of Sidewalks and Chapter 7.24 City to Remove; Costs returned to the table for the second reading. 
The amendment read, “It shall be unlawful to deposit snow or ice onto residential streets within the city limits.” 
Language reflecting this and the addition of penalties was added to Chapter 7.24 as well. 
Alderman Dale Householder asked how the ordinance would be enforced and who would be responsible for enforcing it. 
Mayor Mike Verchio said he would assume the Public Works Department (PWD) would be the ones to notice infractions, but any citizen could notice. 
Householder asked if the local deputies would write the tickets for it, and Verchio said they would. Alderwoman Lori Miner said she would like to have this information double-checked because that was not the information she received. Verchio said he got his information from Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller. 
City administrator Brett McMacken said, “The main thing is it’s got to be complaint-driven. That complaint could originate from the city staff. We want to make sure that if there’s snow that’s being placed in the right-of-way, it’s really important that we figure out exactly and 100 percent who did it. So if we can observe it, that’s great.”
However, McMacken said being in the right place at the right time to witness it would be a challenge. Typically these tickets would be handled in the office, written administratively and mailed. He said the deputies were not really set up to do administrative work because there is not a Hill City ticket book. 
“We just utilize the county citations so every citation I write is to the county code,” said McMacken. “But when we do write our own administrative ticket, there has to be an appeal process, and typically it’s either the Planning and Zoning Commission or the city council that they talk to if they want to appeal.” 
The deputies could talk to residents as a courtesy conversation. Verchio clarified that this is what he talked to the sheriff about. 
“I would rather have a verbal warning from the deputy first. I don’t want to jump right in and start fighting people about it. That’s why I talked to the sheriff about it, and Mueller said that that would be no problem for him to have his guys do,” said Verchio.
PWD director Justin Asher said, “That also gives us the opportunity to give a verbal warning as well. Right now we don’t have anything except to ask them, and like I said, the last time that happened we got laughed at and cussed at.” 
Alderman Ethan Walker asked if something should be added about giving a verbal warning before charging a penalty. McMacken said this could be added to the resolution. 
Since the amendment is addressing residential streets, Miner asked how Oak Street would be classified since surrounding properties are zoned commercial. She asked the same of Pine Avenue and Park Street. 
“How are we going to enforce that, because I think the residents need to know?” said Miner. 
“I think we’re splitting hairs and throwing up roadblocks we don’t need to throw up,” said Verchio. 
“We’re not talking individual plots, we’re talking a street in general, end-to-end,” Householder said. “So if there’s a resident somewhere on that street, it’s considered a residential street as far as I’m concerned.”
Walker said he did not have an issue with it but said Miner brought up a good point regarding how to classify residential streets. 
McMacken said, “The only way to clarify this question is if you actually did an exhibit along with the ordinance that mapped out what streets you’re talking about.” 
He said the word “residential” was used to create separation from the central business area where business owners are encouraged to shovel their snow into the street since it is a state highway. 
Householder motioned to table the amendment and add an exhibit defining the streets. Miner seconded, Walker voted in favor and alderman Jason Gillaspie said, “No, I’d rather do it and take care of it.”
Emily Shultz submitted a special event application for the Hill City Wine, Brew & BBQ. She said there were no changes from the past two years. 
They would be setting up in the Hill City Center parking lot. which would be blocked off Thursday morning. From there the event would be on East Elm Street, Walnut Avenue and McGregor Street from Railroad Avenue to Main Street, creating a horseshoe shape. The open container area will be the same as last year. 
Jessica Jacobs, owner of the Tin City Saloon, said the Wine, Brew & BBQ creates a “nightmare” for her. 
“I’ve expressed concerns about this event in the past, and I’ve been assured that the event will work with me and make sure my business is not negatively impacted, but it does continue to affect us. I’ve talked with other merchants who share the alley, and I’m not the only business owner who is negatively impacted,” said Jacobs. 
Last year Jacobs tried to be proactive and talked with the organizers because she was unsure if her vendors and staff members would be able to get through. However, Jacobs said staff members were confronted and yelled at trying to get to work, and vendors could not maneuver through the people and barricades. 
“One of my vendors just this last year pushed my delivery on carts from the overflow parking at the train through all the people and the traffic to get the delivery to me because they weren’t getting out of his way and moving and giving him access,” said Jacobs. 
She said people park wherever they want whether it causes a hazard or an inconvenience to others. She was also concerned about the alcohol sold. 
“Do we know if it’s actually legal for the alcohol that’s sold for the event to go into local merchants? Because based on a conversation I had with the state, it’s actually not. They don’t have liquor licenses. It’s actually not legal for beer and wine to go into those businesses, and it creates a liability for them,” said Jacobs. 
She asked why the council did not look at moving the event to a space that was “more appropriate” like a campground or park so businesses downtown could be operated as usual. 
Miner said the discussion she had with merchants is that because Wine, Brew & BBQ is on a back street, business is pulled away and people are staying within the confines of the event. 
Shultz said the event was busier when the tent was on Elm Street, and they did not feel like people were coming over like they used to despite the signage. 
Verchio did not see why people bringing alcohol into businesses would be a liability since the businesses were not selling it or giving it away. 
He also said, “I for one think there would be a heck of a backlash from most businesses if this was moved to a campground.” 
Walker said the Wine, Brew & BBQ was probably the biggest event in Hill City. 
Jacobs said she sees a drop in sales this weekend by thousands of dollars. Shultz said there were thousands of people at Jacobs’ back door if she wanted to take advantage of it and serve beer there. 
The council unanimously approved the special event application as is. 
An outdoor sound permit was submitted to the council by Shawn Burkett, owner of HippieRockStar Boutique Wine & Beer Bar. The permit was requested for the third annual Hill City Summer Concert Series which will take place June 22, July 20, Aug. 17 and Sept. 7.
Householder asked if the closure of the adjacent parking lot for the concerts had been confirmed with the landlord. Jennifer Schmoll said she was working on it, and the concerts would be after the business’ open hours.
An audience member asked who would control the volume of the music. Verchio said the people running the concert would unless the city received a complaint. 
Walker asked if there were any sound volume ordinances. McMacken said there were no decibel limits but music had to be shut off by 10 p.m. Schmoll said they do not go any later than 9 p.m. 
Miner said the current sound ordinance is based on “very subjective things that can’t be enforced” because it was poorly written. The city also does not have a way to measure decibels. 
McMacken said the issue with decibels is the volume will be different depending on how close you are to the source, “so you’re going to have to get really specific as to what the thresholds are.” 
“If it is causing lots of complaints, it’s usually best if a deputy can go in and have that conversation with whatever event is going on, and it just boils down to reasonableness,” said McMacken.
Householder said the people who have taken out permits in the past have been very responsible, and there have been a lot of sound permits given out in the last year. 
“I think it’s been handled very well by the merchants,” said Householder. 
Householder made a motion to approve the permit, and the decision was unanimous.
The council also reviewed the Transfer of Retail on-off sale Malt Beverage and SD Farm Wine to the Downtown Deli & Bakery. Finance officer Stacia Tallon said all the information needed had been completed, background checks were done and the affidavit was signed for the transfer. The council unanimously motioned to approve it. 
The next meeting of the Hill City Common Council is Monday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. 

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