Some Shoveling Required

It’s not just good stewardship, it’s the law.

Winter weather in Warren County means snow and snow means shoveling. However, removing snow from the sidewalk outside your house isn’t just being a good neighbor in the City of Warren, it’s a requirement.

“Prompt removal of snow from sidewalks is important in the City of Warren as it helps facilitate safe pedestrian travel in adverse weather conditions,” according to information being circulated by the City Building Code Department. “Many people rely on sidewalks in order to conduct their daily affairs and virtually every trip, even those by car, includes some walking, so it’s important that sidewalks are cleared of snow in a timely manner.”

That isn’t just a suggestion, in the city, individual can be cited for failing to adhere to regulations regarding removal of snow and ice from sidewalks and could receive a fine of up to $1,000 and 30 days jail time.

“There are many people that use the sidewalks during the winter months and it’s important they are passable by the public,” City Building Code Official Alan Gustafson said on Monday. “It’s also a good reminder to those who may live next to someone that is unable to clear their walks, to do the neighborly thing and help them out by clearing the walks for them.”

The city ordinance governing snow and ice removal sets out specific guidelines on what is required of residents.

Property owners in the central commercial district downtown, on Pennsylvania Avenue between Water and South streets and on Market Street between Pennsylvania and Fifth avenues must remove snow and ice within four hours of any fall of snow, sleet or freezing rain when precipitation ends between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. and by 9 a.m. of the following day when precipitation ends after 8 p.m.

In all other areas of the city, property owners must remove snow and ice by 11:59 p.m. when precipitation ends during daylight hours and by 10 a.m. the following day when precipitation ends during night time hours.

During continuous snow, sleet or freezing rainfall or additional accumulation due to drifting and melting all areas of the city must clear sidewalks at least once per day.

The ordinance also outlines what “clearing” a sidewalk entails and prohibits use of some items. According to the city, regulations governing sidewalk clearance include:

“Sidewalks must be cleared on all sides of the property down to the bare pavement to a width of ten feet or the width of the sidewalk whichever is less.”

“Where sidewalks are greater than ten feet in width, the area to be cleared shall begin at the sidewalk edge furthest from the curb line of the street.”

“If the sidewalks are located on a corner lot, the sidewalk from the curb line to the main sidewalk shall also be cleared.”

“All ice must be removed from sidewalks.”

“If ice cannot be removed without damaging the sidewalk, it must be treated with enough de-icer, salt, sand or other approved anti-skid material to make pedestrian travel reasonably safe until the ice melts or it can be more easily removed.”

“The use of hazardous materials, or materials which may cause damage to the sidewalk, is prohibited.”

“Snow and ice is not permitted to be placed in roadways, sidewalks, crosswalks, municipal right of ways or within three feet of any fire hydrant.”

Failure to follow these provisions can result in a citation.

According to materials provided by the city, “If the city receives a complaint or discovers that a sidewalk is not properly cleared within the required time period, city building code officials will inspect the sidewalk and give the property owner a warning to have it cleared. Property owners will only receive one warning per-snow season before the enforcement process begins. If the sidewalk has not been cleared upon re-inspection, the property owner will be issued a notice of violation giving them 12 hours to clear the sidewalks. If the sidewalks aren’t cleared within 12 hour notice, the property owner will be issued a citation.”

In addition to a citation, the city may also have a contractor remove snow and ice at the properties expense. In this case, a $25 administration fee is levied in addition to the cost for removal. Failure to pay these bills can result in a lien against the property.