Another Good Neighbor Policy – Removal of Snow, Ice and Accumulations

1st Complaint

We are now entering the snow and ice season for northeast Iowa. Last year brought us more than an average amount of snow and it became difficult for all of us to keep our sidewalks clear. As a reminder, our city believes in maintaining a safe environment for our residents and visitors through a good neighbor policy of sidewalk maintenance.

According to Ordinance 136 of the Hiawatha code the property owner is responsible for clearing the sidewalk adjacent to their property within 24 hours of the cessation of a snow or storm event. Further; according to the ordinance, the City may take immediate action 24 hours after a snow event to remove the snow and ice and to assess the cost to the property owner without notice. The ordinance also states the adjacent property owner may be held liable for damages due to lack of maintenance. Check with your neighbors regarding snow removal and direct sump pumps and downspouts away from hard surfaces so that water doesn’t build up and freeze, creating slippery conditions on driveways, sidewalks or streets.


The abutting property owner shall remove snow, ice, and accumulations promptly from sidewalks. If a property owner does not remove snow, ice, or accumulations within a reasonable time, not to exceed 24 hours following the cessation of snow fall or the forming of ice, the City may do so and assess the costs against the property owner for collection in the same manner as a property tax. The abutting property owner may be liable for damages caused by failure to remove snow, ice, and accumulations promptly from the sidewalk.

In Hiawatha, the process reflects an enforcement policy which reminds the citizenry we can accomplish this goal together as neighbors in a timely manner to maintain public safety. The process remains as implemented in 2020:

  • The city receives a complaint and opens a “snow complaint” file for the property,
  • The city performs an inspection to verify snow has accumulated on the sidewalk
  • The city contacts the owner through door notice and a one-time letter notice. The reminder at your door and the letter are your invitation to correct the safety hazard as quickly as possible. If the sidewalk is cleared, no further action is required.
  • The city re-inspects the sidewalk and if necessary, has the sidewalk cleared of snow.
  • The city sends the bill for snow removal and penalties to the responsible property owner.

For all subsequent snow complaints on a given property:

  • The city will verify snow has accumulated on the sidewalk and,
  • Without further notice, the city may schedule the snow to be removed and,
  • The city will send the bill for snow removal and penalties to the responsible property owner.

Please remember that we ask you to clear and maintain your sidewalks for the safety and enjoyment of our neighbors which may include walking impaired individuals including veterans, elderly and children. If the City takes too long and fails to remove the snow and ice in a timely manner, the danger of accidents increases. We encourage all property owners to maintain safe sidewalks as part of being a good neighbor in Hiawatha.