Public Works seeks law on snow removal

Proposal would require homeowners to do walks

Carroll County

December 03, 2003|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Carroll public works officials have asked the county commissioners to pass a law that would require homeowners to maintain and remove snow from sidewalks.

Under a proposed ordinance presented to the commissioners yesterday, homeowners would be responsible for clearing snow and removing ice from sidewalks within 12 hours of a snowfall.

The ordinance would cover public sidewalks adjacent to the property, said Douglas E. Myers, director of the county Department of Public Works.

The commissioners asked for more information on the proposal, which is expected to come before them again in two to three weeks. The proposed ordinance then would be referred to a public hearing before a final vote is taken.

Myers said the ordinance would "say who's responsible for sidewalks as we become more urban." The county does not have rules regulating snow removal and maintenance of public sidewalks, so it makes sense to put such a law on the books, Myers said.

If snow falls between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the homeowner would have until 6 p.m. the next day to clear the sidewalk, under the proposal.

Homeowners also would be responsible for repairing and maintaining sidewalks.

"Sidewalks are starting to deteriorate and need repair," Myers said after the presentation. "This would spell out who's responsible for the repair."

Under the proposed ordinance, homeowners could be fined up to $100 per violation if they neglect either of the provisions.

Most of the eight municipalities in Carroll County have some form of a sidewalk ordinance, Myers said.

Having a countywide ordinance would allow the county to dip into a State Highway Administration funding pool for sidewalk projects, Myers told the commissioners.

But Commissioner Dean L. Minnich said he needs more information about the proposed sidewalk ordinance before he makes up his mind. Minnich asked several questions about the design and construction of sidewalks, and whether advances in blacktop technology could help sidewalks last longer.

"I'm concerned because you could blow someone out of the water with [maintenance] costs," Minnich said.

In other business, county public works officials asked for a more forceful tool to prompt residents to remove objects, such as portable basketball hoops and skate ramps, out of the county's rights of way.

A proposal would allow the Department of Public Works to place green "notice" stickers on objects warning residents that the items should be removed because they block streets during road cleaning and plowing.

Noting safety concerns and damage to municipal vehicles, Sykesville banned basketball hoops on public rights of way last month. Taneytown also prohibits hoops and other sports equipment on city streets and sidewalks.

Myers said the Department of Public Works contacts residents involved, and that most are cooperative. But in a few cases, where residents cannot be contacted or don't return phone calls, Myers said, "We could put [the stickers] on. It's more authoritative."

The commissioners asked for additional information on the request.

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