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City OKs new snow policy

September 29, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

A new policy on sidewalk snow removal passed with little fanfare during the Hagerstown City Council's Tuesday voting session.

The City Council unanimously approved the policy, which extends the amount of time property owners have to comply with the rules and gives property owners more notice before they can face hefty fees or fines.

City Councilwoman Penny May Nigh was the only person to comment on the measure just before it passed. Nigh addressed the case of Mary Jane Zook, 87, a Virginia Avenue resident who was charged $223 last winter by the city because her sidewalk was not cleared by the time a city contractor visited the house.

"I certainly hope that someone has now made provisions for that woman," Nigh said. Nigh said the city has pledged to help those who need it.


City Engineer Rodney Tissue said last week that a city-organized group will be available for those who are physically and financially unable to clear their sidewalks. He encouraged those who are physically unable to do so to first try to hire help.

Nigh's final comment was simple: "And please remember, everyone, stock up on your salt."

The contractor last year charged $45 for a single salt application. A new contract has not yet been determined.

The new policy includes the following provisions:

· Enforcement priorities: The city will clear its sidewalks first, and then prioritize enforcement of private properties starting with those downtown; then those near schools, hospitals or government offices; then residential areas.

· Notice: If an inspector finds a property is in violation, a notice will be posted saying what day and time a contractor is to return to remove snow. If snow is cleared when the contractor arrives, no fines or costs will be assessed.

· Fines, fees: If notification has been received and the sidewalk hasn't been cleared, city inspectors will have the walkway cleared. The charge will be $60 in city fees, plus contractor materials and costs.

The first time a sidewalk is cleared, there will be no fine. The second time and thereafter, the fine will be $200 in addition to snow-clearing costs.

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