The worst offender in recent years, a closed gas station at 2891 Jackson Avenue, ran up $1,300 in fines for multiple violations in 2005. (It’s since been remodeled to house Great Lakes Chocolate and Coffee Company, and is no longer a source of complaints.) A handful of others were billed $350 to $550 for repeat offenses—though none was hit with the maximum $1,000 fine allowed under the city code.
Sigma Nu, a fraternity at 700 Oxford, tied with the gas station as the city’s most ticketed address, with four citations from 2004 to early 2008. (Emails to Sigma Nu were not returned by press time.) Also among the offenders: Theta Chi, at 1351 Washtenaw, and Kappa Sigma, at 806 Hill. Theta Chi president Matt Plonsker and Kappa Sigma president Adam DeSantis say their members are assigned to clear the sidewalks on a rotating schedule. “If it doesn’t snow on your week, you get lucky,” says DeSantis—but if it snows and the designated brothers don’t shovel, they’re responsible for paying any fines.
Three rental homes on South University belonging to the Evitt Company ran up $600 in fines in 2005. Evitt manager John Westerman says that the tenants signed leases obligating them to shovel the walks but didn’t do it. Now, he says, “I just do it myself.”
Westerman wonders whether the city is writing more snow removal tickets to boost revenue. But Rankin says most citations are issued because someone calls in to complain. He says he hears from a group of “regular spotters” who seem to patrol neighborhoods looking for “every house that hasn’t cleaned off the snow.”