Oak Lawn businesses fined for not shoveling sidewalks

OAK LAWN, Ill. (WLS) -- The Village of Oak Lawn has been having issues with commercial properties owners who have not cleared their sidewalks.

Firing up the brand new snow blower, even though it has already snowed a lot this month, Roger Wilson bought a blower Thursday; the business owner doesn't want to face another stiff fine from the Village of Oak Lawn. His Car-X Auto Service was one of 247 businesses that were cited for not clearing sidewalks after the Feb. 1 blizzard.

The village says it's all about safety.

"I understand it's for safety of the people but it's hard to shovel and plow the ice that comes up on Cicero Avenue that comes from snow plows going down the road," Wilson said.

There are no exceptions. Handing out $500 tickets, Oak Lawn is serious about enforcing an ordinance that requires all commercial properties to remove snow and ice from the sidewalks surrounding their properties. Village officials say to expect fines every time it snows.

"It's big problem, and it's an increasing problem because more and more businesses are failing to do it, major corporations are failing to do it," said Jeanne Foody Galzin, Village of Oak Lawn.

While the Car-X sidewalks are now clear, the Walgreen's store across the street hasn't touched its sidewalks. With the first round of fines, the village may waive the citation if businesses prove with pictures and a signed document that their sidewalks are passable.

"If it ever happens again, there is no relief, and the fine will increase each time," Foody Galzin said.

Wilson isn't taking any chances.

"I'm doing everything they want me to do now," Wilson said.

Fortunately, Oak Lawn residents are off the hook. The ordinance does not apply to homeowners. Village officials say residents are pretty good about shoveling their sidewalks.

"Everybody pitches in around here so it's a good neighborhood to be in, people are nice," said Jeff Allen, an Oak Lawn resident.

But as for the stiff fines, the first hearings for those fines will be next week at Village Hall. The village is so serious about this that they're considering expanding the ordinance to apartments and condos.
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