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Should Waltham Require Property Owners to Shovel Sidewalks?

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The December storm left more than snow. It left unshoveled sidewalks that became ice and a potential danger for pedestrians.

However, there could be remedies for icy sidewalks – a city regulation to require residents to shovel the sidewalks outside of their home.

Currently, a Waltham city ordinance requires property owners on Main Street to shovel the sidewalks outside of their building within 24 hours of snowfall ceasing. That regulation applies to both sides of the street from Prospect Hill Road to Linden Street.

Newton is currently considering extending a two-year trial period that requires all property owners to clear snow from their sidewalk within 30 hours of the snow falling.

TELL US: Should Waltham adopt an ordinance to require property owners to shovel their sidewalks? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below.  

Luis Rodriguez January 10, 2013 at 11:44 AM
I would see why not? Since I am a tenant on Grove Street. I always clean in from of my Landlord property which I paid rent, and it not so how too do, for one thing it is a great way for owner too see other owner's of there property's and have a good quality report on one another. Bear in mind the old motto "You watch my back and I will watch your's"... Plus it would give the customer's a good things too verbalize about the owner's property or place of business. PS: I clean my sidewalk because it just a great way too exercise, and it makes me feel good that I did something for Waltham, Ma. Still living here since 1989!
WendyM January 10, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Yes! Yes, yes, a million times yes! This is my biggest pet peeve! I live off Moody St, near a business that has never once shoveled the sidewalk on one side of their building, no matter the amount of snow. As you can imagine, most people walk to some extent in this neighborhood, and it forces everyone to walk in the street. I know for myself, I never feel safe doing that when it is dark at 6 am or 6pm walking to and from the 505 bus stop. You would think a business would want neighborhood business and would be good neighbors by shoveling! But, yes, I would love if we passed something like Newton is considering. Its one thing I liked about living in Boston.
Ann January 10, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Yes! I do believe that all property owners should shovel their sidewalks. I don't have sidewalks where I now live, but when I lived on Francis Street, I was in the habit of shoveling the entire sidewalk in front of my property, I went right to the curb, I don't like snowbanks next to the street, it makes it too difficult to get in and out of a car.
Noto Traffic January 10, 2013 at 03:21 PM
I think business owners should shovel and de-ice for their customers. If someone fell would they be liable? and I don't mean just paying a city fine. Someone should check that out. Maybe once they knew that, they would. I also think property owners should shovel and DE-ICE for tenants, mailmen, children going and coming from school and anyone else that walks by. If the property owner physically can't do it then they need to enlist a family member or a tenant (maybe a little break in rent) or a neighbor to do it. That's why the city is giving you several hours to get to it. Speaking of pet-peeve's. My pet-peeve is property owners shoveling snow from their properties into the street. Then the plow comes by and takes their snow and pushes it in front of a neighbors driveway that they just shoveled. We all know how snow plows work right? I have in front of me a cut-out newpaper clipping from the "Legal Notices" from 5-31-11. It states that if property owners shovel snow into the street the first offense is a $100.00 fine. Second offense is a $300.00 fine. I'm just wondering how this is being enforced? If you see it, you call the cops, then when they are enroute the plow comes by and removes it all (remember, in front of that neighbors driveway). What happens then? Do we have to video tape it? Making ammendments to rules is a great thing but they need to actually be enforced. Can someone find out about this and let us all know.
Noto Traffic January 10, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Holy Cow I guess I have a lot to say on this subject. My son's bus stop is on the corner of a city park (no property owner - city owned). That corner is NEVER plowed. When I call the Mayor's office someone comes out and plows (which I do appreciate). My concern or problem is if we are going to fine property owners for not shoveling in front of their properties what happens to the city when the city doesn't shovel THEIR properties? Maybe someone can find out about this and let us all know. I think I'm done now.
Jason Wichern January 10, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Yes. Residents should be required to shovel their sidewalks. Also, the city needs to do a better job clearing the sidewalks that are their responsibility. It was ridiculous the sidewalks were not clear on Newton St from River St over the charles river and up. People were walking in the street with a baby carriage at night because they couldnt use the sidewalk.
Noto Traffic January 10, 2013 at 03:43 PM
I know Robert Logan, a city councillor, is a big fan of the Patch. I see comments from him all the time on this. Maybe he can tell us they stuff we are wondering pertain to this issue. Why is it that he is the only city councillor that views this or comments on this site? Where are all the other ones?
Breezer January 10, 2013 at 04:10 PM
For one thing, not all of the streets in Waltham even have sidewalks. And some streets have sidewalks only on one side of the street. I live on a side street in N Waltham that gets very little traffic. No one shovels the sidewalk and it's not a big deal. The sidewalks are city-owned property, just like the streets. If the city wants to clear them, that's fine. I don't see why residents should be forced to do it.
Ryan Grannan-Doll (Editor) January 10, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Hi Noto, I notified him of this post. I'm willing to bet he will respond soon.
Kanya Backitap January 10, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Isn't there already an ordinance in place?
Alice H January 10, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Wasn't there a recent case in state court that concluded that all property owners must clear their sidewalks? Ryan, can you research this?
moe howard January 10, 2013 at 07:31 PM
The city doesn't have the proper equipment to clear sidewalks. They send out what they have after the storm is finished.
Tash January 10, 2013 at 09:07 PM
Yes! Walking to the train is hazardous because where home-onwners (I think most businesses on my route are pretty good about shoveling) haven't shoveled the snow has turned to very uneven ice. I actually don't see why a property owner wouldn't do this considering they are liable when someone falls on their property! Requiring this would go a long way in making Waltham a much more walkable city - so would more street-lights around crosswalks and bans on biking on the sidewalks, but I digress.
Joseph G. Paquette January 10, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Yes - It is both a matter of civil need to respond to the requirements of the safety of its citizens as well as of public pride in the execution in a timely manner of the removal of the snow and ice on the sidewalks.
bearhill January 11, 2013 at 03:41 AM
Yes. Public safety is a top concern, and of course taking some ownership and pride in the city of Waltham. So either require property owners to shovel sidewalks along their property or give them the alternative; higher taxes to pay for additional sidewalk clearing equipment and CPW personnel.
Alice H January 11, 2013 at 11:27 AM
http://www.massrealestatelawblog.com/2010/07/28/massachusetts-property-owners-now-have-legal-responsibility-to-shovel-and-treat-snow-and-ice-on-property/ here is the state court ruling. all property owners in the state are required to clear their walks.
Jahmmy January 11, 2013 at 01:34 PM
A Waltham regulation with a time frame (say it has to be cleared within 18 or 24 hours) would strengthen the above ruling.
Ryan Grannan-Doll (Editor) January 11, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Hi Alice, I'm not a lawyer, and don't play one on tv, but I think it means something different. The ruling, in my view, means property owners are LEGALLY liable, instead of legally required to clear their walks. That means they can be sued for not taking proper care, but it does not require them to clear it.
YiayiaOnline January 12, 2013 at 05:22 AM
I'm 83, it would be an extreme hardship for me to try to try and clear what the plows throw up for the entire front of my property. I have trouble finding someone reliable, whom I can afford, to even do my walk which I frequently have to do myself. My neighbors across the street are gone for the entire winter. What happened to the city sidewalk plows?. There used to be two of them. Which of the local towns require this?
Robert G. Logan January 12, 2013 at 09:34 PM
- Ryan, I agree. In fact, my reading of the court decision is that it only applies to walkways on private property. Holding a private property owner responsible for clearing snow from public property (public sidewalk) just because their property abuts the public way is another matter. YiayiaOnline brings up a couple of good points. First, is that the city plows snow from the streets into large piles on the corners. Should we then require private landowners to then clear those piles, and where are they going to put all that snow? The second point is the biggest reason why Waltham has never adopted such a requirement citywide; It would be a severe hardship for elderly and disabled homeowners. When it snows, Public Works does the best job they can with the personnel and equipment available. The first priority is to clear the roadways. Next are the sidewalks on the school routes and in high pedestrian traffic areas. If there is a particular sidewalk that you think should be added to the priority list, contact you ward councillor. Robert G. Logan Councillor Ward 9

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