Changes to Somerville’s snow policies: what you need to know

snowPhoto by Anna Reg

We’ve had a downright balmy holiday season here in the ‘ville, but the WBZ-TV AccuWeather team is predicting above-average snowfall for the region come 2015. What does that mean for you? Well, for starters, global factors indicate that you could be seeing 10 to 20 inches more snow than you do during the average winter. But it also means you’ll need to be in the know about some changes to the city’s snow policies, including increased fines for unshoveled walkways and higher charges for repeat offenders.

Here’s what the city has to say about shoveling:

New Regulations for Shoveling Schedules

Property owners are responsible for shoveling sidewalks abutting their property of snow and ice. To ensure sidewalks remain accessible for all residents, particularly senior citizens, residents with disabilities, and young children walking to and from schools, the City has updated its allowable timeline in which property owners must shovel sidewalks before incurring fines. The new schedule is as follows:

  • If snow ceases to fall after sunrise (during daylight hours), property owners must shovel sidewalks by 10 p.m.
  • If snow ceases to fall after sunset (overnight), property owners must shovel sidewalks by 10 a.m.

In cases of extreme snowfall and/or during snow emergencies, the City reserves the option to alter the schedule as necessary.”

And here’s what’s up with shoveling fines:

Fines for Un-Cleared Sidewalks Increased

Fines for failure to shovel within the allotted timeline have doubled. Property owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks abutting their property of snow and ice to a minimum width of 42 inches (a requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act). Failure to shovel sidewalks within the timeline set in City ordinance (see description above) will result in fines, which have doubled in amount for the 2014-2015 winter season:

  • 1st offense: $50.00
  • 2nd offense: $100.00
  • 3rd and subsequent offenses: $200.00

Somerville is also introducing a “Clean and Lien” program, which states, “After the third offense, the City will have the right to use its own resources to clear sidewalks of snow and ice, and to lien the affected property to recover costs for time, labor, and resources.”

For more information about revisions to the city’s snow policies, head to www.somervillema.gov/snow. You can also check out the city’s site or call 311 for up-t0-date information and alerts about snow emergencies.

Stay warm and safe out there, everyone!

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