Newton Aldermen Pass Two-Year "Trial" of Snow Shoveling Ordinance

The "trial" ordinance will begin Nov. 1, 2011 and has no fines. Text of ordinance included below.

Despite its lack of approval in subcommittee, the full Board of Aldermen tonight agreed to a two-year “trial” ordinance for snow shoveling. 

After morphing through various amendments and more than three hours of debate, 18 aldermen voted in favor of the shoveling rule while only six aldermen--Ald. Charlie Shapiro, Vice President Cheryl Lappin, Allan Ciccone Jr., Anthony Salvucci, Greer Tan Swiston and President Scott Lennon--voted against.

For more details on how the aldermen voted and what they thought, read our follow-up story .

The two-year trial will begin on Nov. 1, 2011 and have a sunset clause for Nov. 1, 2013. At that point (or earlier, if necessary), the full board will decide whether it wishes to continue the ordinance with fines for those residents who do not shovel sidewalks abutting their property.

After going through several different forms, the trial voted on tonight requires residents to clear approximately 36 inches or the width of the sidewalk or handicap ramps abutting their property within 30 hours of a storm. Snow and ice must be removed and the sidewalk must be properly treated.

Fines for not clearing sidewalks will not be handed out during the trial, however, notices of non-compliance may be issued to those who do not shovel.

In addition, the ordinance incorporates a clause that requires the city to coordinate snow-shoveling assistance or exemptions for those residents who “demonstrate hardship due to a combination of health and financial duress.”

The shoveling exemptions would be renewable on a yearly basis, according to the language voted on tonight. 

Last week, the Finance Committee voted on a form of the ordinance with five aldermen in favor (Ald. Stephen Linsky, John Freedman, Vicki Danberg, Ruthanne Fuller, John Rice) and three opposed (Ald. Allan Ciccone Jr., Lenny Gentile and Anthony Salvucci.)

Earlier this year, a similar motion in both the Public Facilities and Public Safety & Transportation Committees, which voted 3-3 and 2-3-1, respectively.

Notification of the new ordinance will likely be mailed out with quarterly utility bills in the late summer/early fall, according to Danberg.

The board spent a large part of the meeting--nearly two hours--debating four amendments to the ordinance that clarified terms around treatment of sidewalks as well as legal issues tied to the ordinance. 

The full text of the ordinance is as follows:

Sec. 26-8D Trial program for removal of snow and ice from sidewalks.

In order to allow for safe pedestrian and wheelchair passage, every owner or occupant of a building or lot of land abutting upon a paved sidewalk or any person having charge of such property shall use reasonable efforts to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk and handicap access ramps, and shall use reasonable efforts to treat said sidewalk and ramps to allow for a safe passageway of approximately thirty-six (36) inches in width, provided that where such sidewalk is less than thirty-six (36) inches in width, the passageway shall encompass its entire width and handicap access ramps. Snow and ice shall be removed, and sidewalks and ramps shall be treated, within thirty (30) hours after such snow has ceased to fall or such ice has formed.

This section shall apply to snow and ice which falls from buildings, other structures, trees or bushes, as well as to that which falls from clouds. This section shall not apply to owners or occupants of a building or lot covered by Section 26-8. The Mayor or his designee is authorized to coordinate volunteer snow-clearing assistance or to grant an exemption, renewable annually, for citizens who upon written petition demonstrate hardship due to a combination of health and financial duress. The provisions of this section shall take effect on November 1, 2011 and shall expire on November 1, 2013 unless terminated earlier or renewed or modified by the Board of Aldermen.

During this trial period, enforcement shall be limited to issuance of notices of non-compliance for violations of any provision of this section. 

Stay tuned to Newton Patch for more coverage of this story. 

Marie Jackson March 22, 2011 at 04:19 AM
Way to go, Board of Aldermen. Next year, (2011) we will, no doubt hear from the people who live on the corners where the city plows deposit the snow, and those homeowners should be not only heard but helped. In the meantime, Why spend five more years of people walking in traffic to talk about every such individual problem? Congratulations on a decisive decision.
Christine Lacey March 22, 2011 at 10:58 AM
I certainly hope that Newton can join the several other cities and towns in the area in having clear sidewalks in the winter!


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