Watertown residents would be required to remove snow and ice from sidewalks in front of their homes if the amendment to the Snow Ordinance is approved.
The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes to the Snow and Ice Removal Ordinance on Tuesday, Jan. 9, Council President Mark Sideris said during his address at Tuesday’s Inauguration Ceremony. The meeting will be held at City Hall beginning at 7 p.m. Remote participation will be available.
Watertown already has snow and ice removal rules for commercial properties, but the changes to the Snow and Ice Removal Ordinance would add requirements to remove snow from sidewalks in front of homes.
The proposal requires snow and ice to be removed within 24 hours of the end of the snow, sleet or freezing rain. The area cleared must be 42 inches wide or, if the sidewalk is narrower, the full width.
The proposed Snow Ordinance includes fines for not clearing snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of the property. For “small residential properties” the first violation would get a written warning, a second violation gets a $50 fine, and $100 for a third and all subsequent violations in the same winter/snow season.
For all other residential properties, there is a written warning for the first violation, $100 for the second, and $200 for the third and subsequent violations in the same season.
There are exemptions for people “who are unable to meet the physical requirements of this section, particularly for low-income, elderly, or disabled residents, or for other unusual circumstances.”
At the Dec. 12 City Council meeting, City Manager George Proakis said he looked forward to the discussion of the residential snow removal requirement. He said there are some details to look at if the City is to implement the new rules.
“Keep in mind we have established a violation/penalty system here, and it’s going to take some work on the administration’s side to determine what is needed to actually do the enforcement in a system like this,” Proakis said. “I look forward to having more conversation with the Council about what the expectations are. Do you want us out there seeking violations or do you want us to do it on more of a compliance basis.”
Another area that must be worked out is the areas of sidewalks in front of property that are not in front of a home and how they will be cleared.
“I would like to have a conversation about what may or may not be possible in a world where our DPW team is constantly seeking plow drivers and those to remove snow,” he said. “Those little pieces may or may not be possible.”
The City Council agenda with links to participate remotely will be posted here.