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Putting heat on sidewalks

Sturbridge to enforce plowing bylaw

November 02, 2010
STURBRIDGE — Will a loss of greenbacks motivate prompt removal of the white stuff this winter?

The Board of Selectmen decided to find out as they reversed a decades-old policy of removing snow from the sidewalks along Route 20 during the meeting on Monday, Nov. 1.

The decision, which goes into effect Jan 1, 2011, is meant to reduce liability to the town and save taxpayer dollars. Director of Public Works Director Greg Morse estimated the town spends approximately $20,000 a year removing snow from sidewalks and a good portion of the work is done in front of privately owned buildings. The town will still be responsible for removing snow from sidewalks in front of municipal buildings.

There is a town bylaw requiring all property owners to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of their properties within 24 hours of accumulation or face a $10 fine. Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski explained that, about 15 years ago, the board decided to handle snow removal, but the original bylaw is on the books and applicable.

"I recommend the town enforce the bylaw to reduce legal exposure and because of the burden it otherwise puts on the DPW," Suhoski said.

Chairman of the Board Thomas Creamer said it might be necessary in the future to increase the fine because he fears $10 will not be enough to compel landlords who do not have businesses in their own buildings to comply, leaving the burden on their tenants.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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