You Ask...Patch Answers: Who is Supposed to Shovel the Sidewalk?

We were curious about the town's rules related to sidewalk-shoveling after a snowstorm.

Patch readers have asked us the following question: "Who is responsible for clearing the sidewalks in town after a snowstorm?"

The answer: According to Norwood DPW Director Mark Ryan, "Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40 Section 21 allows cities and towns to adopt ordinances that require property owners to keep the sidewalk in front of their house free of snow and ice. Norwood does not have an ordinance that stringent.

We do have an ordinance in the Town Bylaws, Article XII, Section 26, which requires any business or commercial enterprise to clear snow from the sidewalk in front of their property within 6 hours of daylight after any snow has ceased to fall. Residents are exempt. However, I do not believe it is ever enforced.

Public Works does clear snow from 31 miles of sidewalks in Town. These sidewalk routes were established by a joint effort with the Public Works, Police Department and School Department. It generally focuses on areas around schools, Norwood Center and Washington Street through South Norwood. While having Public Works plow all sidewalks may sound ideal, manpower and financial restraints prohibit that from occurring."

Chris Taylor March 01, 2013 at 12:36 PM
Norwood needs to start levying some fines for this, some of this snow has been on sidewalks for more than a week after the storm. I can understand some elderly and handicapped residents not doing it, but the area I used to live in on Jacobsen Drive, most of those people are just lazy. Fine all of them.
Nicole March 01, 2013 at 01:06 PM
they should have to at least do the sidewalks where buses let on and off children. On Chapel St. it was only done in patches on 'the take out' side (which i think was done by residents not by the town) but none on the other where a bus drops of kindergarteners! my friend has to either walk in the street or cross the street 4 times to pick up her daughter, along with her 3yr old son and 5 month old daughter. and i think whoever the "joint effort" was should sit down and rethink this!
Trish Monahan March 01, 2013 at 01:28 PM
I think homeowners should be held accountable for clearing the sidewalks in front of their property. If they are renting the property, they could work out the issue with their tenant as to who will do the work. There is no valid reason for someone to force their neighbors to walk in the street just because the sidewalk has not been cleared. Even worse, some people shovel the snow from their driveway onto the sidewalk, creating a pile of snow that lingers after most snow has melted. As someone who used to walk to the train, it is dangerous (and even life threatening) to have to walk on an already narrowed street while traffic is whizzing by. I'm with Chris, it's time to levy fines.
Mr. Ragman March 01, 2013 at 02:23 PM
The town sets the precedent by plowing sidewalks. They have done it for years and if it is not done and someone gets hurt as a result, it it the town's fault since they have set the precedent and taken the responsibility of clearing the sidewalks, where in fact they do.
Chris Taylor March 01, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Precedent or not, shoveling out fire hydrants is a priority and everyone should help out. If you can't handle shoveling snow you live in the wrong region.


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