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Clearing the air on clearing snow

Sturbridge selectmen vote to enforce sidewalk clearing bylaw

In enforcing a town bylaw regarding snow removal Monday, Sturbridge selectmen will keep the plows working the roadways, but leave sidewalk clearing to property owners. (click for larger version)
December 07, 2010
STURBRIDGE — Tenants and owners of properties abutting sidewalks along routes 20 and 131 will have an added responsibility this winter removing snow.

After a lengthy discussion Monday, Dec. 6, the Board of Selectmen agreed to enforce Section 6.50 of the Town's General Bylaws, meaning owners of property on the aforementioned routes will be required to remove snow and ice from sidewalks within 24 hours of the completion of a storm. Enforcement of the by-law will begin on Jan. 15, and only those owners whose properties abut an incomplete sidewalk will be exempt.

"In the past we've paid for thousands of man hours each winter to send the DPW out there to clear sidewalks," said Selectman Scott Garieri. "Enforcing this by-law will be a simple cost-effective measure that will save a lot of money."

In the next 10 days, the Sturbridge Police will hand deliver notifications of enforcement to abutters along Route 20 and 131. Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski will mail notifications to owners of any vacant properties and addresses to which police are unable to deliver. In addition, Suhoski will disseminate the notifications to the community using the town website, notices to local print media, messages on local cable television, and reminder prompts on the town message board.

Failure to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk will result in a $10 fine per day, a penalty established by Section 9.02 of the Town's General Bylaws. The Sturbridge Police will issue citations to owners via general mail, and the fine appeal process will be conducted through the state court system.

Although the idea to enforce the existing by-law has several benefits, many town officials and residents fear that the negative aspects of the plan will overshadow the positive ones.

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

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