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Who Clears Marlborough's Snowy Sidewalks?

A reader asked about the city's rules related to sidewalk-shoveling, particularly when said sidewalks are where children wait for the bus.

A reader recently asked us the following question: "What happens when homeowners don't clear their sidewalks, more than 24 hours after a snow storm, and their sidewalks happen to be a bus stop for elementary school students?"

The short answer: Sidewalks must be cleared by the property owner within 12 hours after the flakes stop flying.

The longer answer: According to Pamela Wilderman, the City's Code Enforcement Officer, it is the responsibility of the owner, tenant or caretaker of a property that abuts a sidewalk to clear that sidewalk. If it is not cleared in a timely fashion a $50 fine could be levied.

The sidewalk must be cleared within 12 hours of the snow stopping during the day time, or by noon the next day if the snow ends overnight, she said.

“Somebody has got to be responsible for keeping it clear," said Wilderman who explained it is extremely important to get this cleared after this storm before school starts on Monday. “It is really important that whenever possible you try to clear off the snow as quickly as you can.”

Additional problems come when snow plows clear driveways, leaving piles blocking the sidewalk. This is something that people can address with their snow plow driver, said Wilderman.

Mr. C February 07, 2013 at 08:59 PM
There is a City Code that states; (paraphasing) It is the property owners responsibility to clear and maintain sidewalks within the boundarys of their property. The actual code can be found on a link on the City's web site.
Katie Robey February 07, 2013 at 09:01 PM
From Marlborough City Code book § 551-25. Snow removal. [Amended 1-11-1971 by Ord. No. 10149] A. The tenant or occupant and, in case there shall be no tenant or occupant, the owner or any person having the care of any building or lot of land bordering on any street, lane, court, square or public place within the City where there is a sidewalk shall cause all snow that may be on such sidewalk to be removed therefrom within 12 hours after the snow ceases to fall, if it ceases to fall in the daytime, and before 12:00 noon, if it ceases to fall in the nighttime, and if he neglects so to do, he shall be liable to a penalty of not less than $2 nor more than $10 for each offense. The provisions of this section shall apply to snow which falls from buildings as well as to that which falls from the clouds. There's more, but it's too long to post here. Go to http://www.marlborough-ma.gov and scroll to bottom and click on City of Marlborough General Code, then do a search for sidewalk plowing.
Christine February 07, 2013 at 09:29 PM
I end up driving my kids to school after a storm because the almost 1/4 mile walk uphill is NEVER shoveled and the bus stop itself is under a mountain and a half. Obviously not being enforced in my neighborhood. I would think the school department/bus company would at least drive around to see if their assigned stops were safe after a storm. My street is so busy that we can't walk up and wait in the street.
Damon Michaels February 08, 2013 at 07:07 PM
The city can't enforce the code... they clear out some sidewalks with city vehicles, but other areas do not get cleared out. I call it geographic discrimination, and I am sure a lawsuit based on a ticket could be won (although at great expense). I also dare them to come ticket my 80+ year old neighbors, or any of my neighbors, because none of them clear the snow from the sidewalks (I actually do, yep I am the odd duck here in my neighborhood when it comes to snow removal). Yet another useless law that should be off the books...
Damon Michaels February 08, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Similar situation here. The sheer volume of snow placed on my property by the city is astounding. I also recall the rule mentioning "natural snow", which means you would not be responsible for snow deposited by a snow plow as that is not "natural".

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