City of Minneapolis tightens rules on snow storage

Ready or not, winter is coming. But before the flakes start falling, the City of Minneapolis is tightening its rules when it comes to those giant snow piles that sometimes form.
On a bare sliver of land in northeast Minneapolis, right along the railroad, Heidi Andermack has a vivid mental image of the unsightly mountain that grows each winter.

“Dark snow -- it's not clean fallen snow, it’s got trash mixed in with it,” Andermack, a northeast Minneapolis resident, said. “It's a mess.”

The spot is one of many used in Minneapolis for snow storage—a dumping spot, basically, for private contractors who clear parking lots and alleys.

“In my area where we have a lot of industrial property, it's the traditional area where snow will be stored,” Minneapolis City Council member Kevin Reich said.

Reich heard the complaints from residents like Andermack. As areas like the neighborhood in northeast Minneapolis began to convert from industrial to small business and residential, the snow piles and their runoff began to get noticed.

“So I'd get the call, what's all this junk floating around in the street, what's all this water, why is it constantly flooding” Reich said.

From those complaints came the city's new ordinance to tighten the rules of snow dumping sites, making sure they have landscaping to cut down visual pollution, as well as proper drainage and containment to stop the runoff that may carry actual pollution.

“I mean, this is really dirty stuff. It's got oil, it's got solvents, it's got physical debris,” Reich said.

"There's a lot of growing businesses in this area, and I think it would serve them and the neighborhood well," Andermack said.