Summit County snowplows are in the spotlight
Parking on snowy side streets in the Snyderville Basin is a risky endeavor during the winter months, especially since two Summit County residents claim that the county’s snowplows recently damaged their cars.
According to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, dispatch received several calls last week alleging that county snowplows had "hit" vehicles throughout the Snyderville Basin-area while clearing the roadways. Deputies later determined the damage was actually caused by snow being pushed toward the outer edges of the road. However, two callers still filed reports.
Detective Kacey Bates, with the Sheriff’s Office, said property damage is considered a civil matter and deputies are only required to photograph the scene and provide a case number. The Sheriff’s Office then referred the victims to the Public Works Department and supervisor Derrick Radke.
County code prohibits parking on public streets from Nov. 15 through April 15. The ordinance states that vehicles illegally parked can be subject to ticketing and towing at the owner’s expense.
Radke said the county will not assume any liability or repair mailboxes, landscaping or damage to vehicles on the street, adding that there is a county ordinance that says anything placed in the right-of-way, including cars, is done so at the owner’s risk. However, any damage to the county’s equipment from contact with illegally parked vehicles is also the responsibility of the car’s owner.
"We have certainly had cars in the way this year, but, if it’s only one time we will go around it and try not to hassle them," Radke said. "If it is parked there throughout the storm we have to clear it."
One of the biggest and reoccurring issues that plow drivers face is the improper disposal of snow. With all the accumulation, Radke said property owners are pushing their snow into the county roads and right-of-ways.
Snow removal and storage on private properties is "the duty of all property owners," according to Title 7, Chapter 3 of the Summit County Code. It states that it is "unlawful for any person to deposit, haul, push, blow or otherwise deposit any snow accumulated on private property within the traveled portion of the public street." The traveled portion is defined as the width of the surface, plus 10 additional feet on each side.
"We have code, but it’s a problem every year," Radke said. "Especially since we have about 10 times more snow this year, we have had to send several warnings, but have not issued any citations. There are a few we are getting ready to, though, if it keeps happening."
The Public Works Department collects all fines and appeals are heard by the county’s administrative law judge, however, an employee is not dedicated to enforcement.
A first offense violation is $50 and a second offense is $100. If not resolved, the matter could be transferred to the Summit County Justice Court where it will be treated as a Class C misdemeanor. A Class C misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine upon conviction.
The Summit County Public Works Department provides snow removal services county-wide, with several of the municipalities, including Park City, Coalville and Henefer, setting their own regulations.
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