City making changes to improve snow removal operations

November 8, 2018

The City of Norfolk is changing how it prepares and responds to snow this coming winter. And city officials think citizens will like the changes.

As part of Monday night’s meeting of the Norfolk City Council, Jim Dooley, the operations manager for the street and parks division, shared with council members a report on the city’s snow and ice response plans.

In the event of snow, the city is responsible for 154 miles of roads and 20 miles of alleys. Currently, city policy calls for snow crews to begin plowing snow at 2 a.m. after more than 2 inches of snow have fallen. The plows start with major streets and emergency routes before moving on to residential areas, Dooley said.

The problem with that standard operating procedure is that typical work shifts of plow operators end at 3 p.m. and then resume at 2 a.m. During that gap of time, snow can become packed on city streets and, as a result, more difficult to remove, Dooley said.

So, this year, the city is making changes.

To help eliminate that gap, 13 city employees from various divisions are being trained to also be snow plow operators. During periods of large amounts of snow, those additional snow plows will help clear the major routes.

There also is additional equipment planned, though it won’t be purchased and operational until next winter.

Mayor Josh Moenning told Dooley that the changes would be welcomed.

“I know it’s often a thankless job,” Moenning said. “But we do appreciate the new efforts to cover the gaps and improve what we’re doing.”

New housing developments, zoning changes and some slight changes to city code also were discussed at Monday night’s council meeting.

A change of plans was approved for a development that was initially approved more than 20 years ago. A new developer, Dana Point Development, is seeking land to develop new duplex and detached single family units.

The land in question is part of the Amberwood subdivision planned development, which was approved by the city council in 1996. The ordinance approving the change was passed unanimously.

The developer also requested a zoning change in the area from commercial to residential, which also was approved.

Bill Mizner, Norfolk police chief, also spoke to the council about three proposed changes to city code, which he described as mainly housekeeping in nature.

The first change clarifies the rules regarding using tobacco on city property. The law now states that tobacco cannot be used within 20 feet of any city property or parks, except in public parking lots at Veterans Memorial Park.

The 20-foot rule already existed, but the wording was inconsistent, Mizner said. Tobacco use is also not allowed inside any city building.

The second change removed an overnight parking restriction on Third Street between Whitney Avenue and Northwestern Avenue. The restriction was originally put in place to stop bar patrons from leaving their cars in the area while they were gone throughout the night, Mizner said.

After the closing of The Depot, residents have asked the police to lift the restriction as fewer people are now using the street for parking.

The third change allows Copycraft Printing, a business on Norfolk Avenue, to use city code to enforce parking restrictions on the business’ parking lot.

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