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Newton Aldermen to Consider Extending Trial of Snow Shoveling Ordinance

The full board passed the two-year trial in March 2012.

Newton's snow shoveling ordinance, an item that has been heavily contested in the city, will head back to the aldermen this week for further consideration. 

Both the Public Safety and Public Facilities committees will discuss this week an extension to the two-year "trial" snow shoveling ordinance. 

According to committee agendas, 15 aldermen have docketed an item that requests a one-year extension to the trial, which is scheduled to expire on Nov. 1, 2013.

Approved by the Board of Aldermen in March 2011, the trial snow shoveling ordinance requires property owners to remove snow and ice from sidewalks abutting their property within 30 hours of a storm. 

During the trial, which started on Nov. 1, 2011, the city does not fine property owners for not shoveling, but may issue notices of non-compliance. 

The aldermen agreed that prior to the ordinance's November 2013 "sunset" date, the board would vote whether to continue the requirement and implement fines for not shoveling.

Since the trial started, though, residents have only had to deal with a handful of snowstorms. Last winter was one of the mildest on record and this season has only brought one snowstorm so far. 

The city has also set up resources for those who cannot shovel, including exemption forms and lists of local residents willing to shovel for a fee. 

The Public Safety Committee will meet jointly with the Public Facilities Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 9 to take up the snow shoveling item. The meeting will be held at 7:45 p.m. in room 202 at City Hall. 

MARASH GIRL January 07, 2013 at 11:24 AM
Many of the unshoveled walkways belong to absentee landlords and churches that shovel a short pathway to their doors, but that's it!
Keith W. Bacon January 07, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Marash is right. Other cities in Mass though require this to be done, why not in Newton? Whether the owner is liable / responsible or not for the sidewalk, we are all citizens doing our part to make it a nice place to live. I cleaned my neighbors sidewalk (80 years old couple) and mine.
Patrick Maher January 07, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Property owners with non-paved sidewalks should not be exempted from the ordinance. Those non-paved sidewalks are still public passages, and should be cleared for all the same reasons that the paved sidewalks are required.
Bruce B January 07, 2013 at 07:55 PM
At Newton South High School, the Brandeis Rd sidewalks had not been cleared for their entire length along school property until the end of last week, a week after the last snowfall. Sidewalks crossing or paralleling the Sudbury aqueduct remained uncleared as of this morning. Were sidewalks adjacent to city parks cleared? I'm not sure. I would estimate that 75% of the sidewalk along the north side of Boylston St between Chestnut St and the Elliot T station remained uncleared as of this morning (many rental units, duplexes, or multi-unit properties along here). I'm in favor of clearing sidewalks, but there is no point in having ordinances that cannot or will not be enforced, and that are not followed by government entities such as the schools or the city.
Mike Striar January 10, 2013 at 09:45 PM
This a pathetic attempt on the part of the Board of Aldermen to shift their responsibility to homeowners. The city used to plow the sidewalks, just like they plow the roads. The sidewalks deserve the same attention as the roads. Ordinance advocates say the city can't afford to clear the sidewalks. That's just a load of BS. If money was the issue, this funding should have been included in the mayor's override package. Here's the most important point... Most of the people who support the shoveling ordinance as a means to address what is clearly a public safety issue, really don't understand the scope of the job. They look at the sidewalk in front of their own house as a frame of reference. Newton has approximately 500 miles of sidewalks. Expecting to clear that many miles of sidewalk with a citizen brigade of shovelers is absolutely ridiculous.

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