Town fines residents who don’t clear sidewalks of snow and ice
A neglected sidewalk in front of an apartment building on Prospect St. in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
Snow plowed into a pile blocks this sidewalk on Grinnell Street in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz
GREENFIELD — While there probably won’t be many more snowstorms this season, with it being fewer than 30 days from the beginning of spring, the town says it will continue to issue tickets to homeowners and businesses who don’t clear their sidewalks of snow or ice within 24 hours of a storm.
“We are enforcing the town rule, and people are being fined,” said Marjorie Lane Kelly, the town’s director of finance.
Kelly said property owners are ticketed, for the most part, when a neighbor or someone else complains to the town.
“It would obviously be difficult for us to patrol every sidewalk in town,” said Kelly.
She said parking officers enforce the town law, which requires the owner of any building or property that abuts a town sidewalk to clear that sidewalk of snow or ice within 24 hours of the end of a winter storm.
The law also requires that property owners sand or salt sidewalks if they are slippery but don’t require removal of snow or ice.
Property owners must also clear around a fire hydrant within the same 24 hours if their property abuts one.
“We typically have about 30 to 40 violations a year,” said Kelly.
According to the town law, the first fine is $10, the second is $25, and all fines after are $100.
“Sometimes we’ll give a warning,” said Kelly. “Then, if we find a problem again, the property owner will get his or her first fine.”
Kelly said there are repeat offenders, but not many.
“Generally, we get a complaint because someone tried to pass along a sidewalk and couldn’t,” said Kelly. “We investigate and if we find it’s true, we send the owner a ticket with explanation.”
Kelly said the town is still looking at how it might help its elderly and disabled residents, who can’t get out to shovel.
She said the town also receives complaints that town plows come by after a property owner has shoveled and they have to go back out because their sidewalk is covered again.
“We’re constantly trying to figure out how to do this the best way,” said Kelly. “We’re not trying to make a lot of money on this — we probably make about $400 a year on tickets. We’re trying to keep everyone safe after a storm.”