We are well into that time of year. Several significant snowstorms have already graced our city this winter and we are not out of the woods yet. As Westfield repeatedly turns into a winter wonderland our streets and sidewalks are continuously blanketed with the lovely white stuff. That’s when the calls begin about unshoveled sidewalks.
The ordinance governing removal of snow on sidewalks can be found in chapter 16-14 of Westfield’s City Ordinances. The short version of this ordinance is that if there is a public sidewalk which abuts property owned by you, you are responsible for having the snow removed from that sidewalk within 24 hours of the completion of the snowstorm. If the sidewalk cannot be completely cleared due to ice, you are responsible to “sprinkle… sand, sawdust, or another suitable substance so that such sidewalk shall not be slippery.” Although this is not always the best option, sometimes it is the only option. When officers are called to a complaint about a residence that has ice on the sidewalk and it is completely covered with sand we have no choice but to find that no violation exists. The penalty for not complying with this ordinance is $25 for each day that it is not rectified.
Landlords will sometimes put in their lease or rental agreements that tenants are responsible for snow removal in certain circumstances. If this is the case and snow is not removed, a tenant may be in violation of their rental agreement, but ultimately the property owner, not the tenant, is responsible and may receive a fine.
Please do all you can to have sidewalks abutting your property cleared within the 24 hour deadline. At best an unshoveled sidewalk is an inconvenience and at worst can be dangerous for pedestrians.