Why do we need an ordinance?
While many responsible citizens in Newton do remove the snow from their sidewalks, some do not. Children walking to school, wheelchair users, parents with strollers, commuters, senior citizens, residents walking their dogs or with service dogs, and anyone else who needs to use the sidewalk is forced to walk in the street. Walking on the street, especially after dark, is dangerous for the pedestrian and the driver.
Why can’t the city just plow all the sidewalks?
Newton has 531 miles of sidewalk, and although the city currently plows the highest-priority routes, to do the whole city would cost $1.8 million a year.
What will the penalties be for people who don’t remove the snow from their sidewalks?
Newton Ordinances fine business $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, $300 for all subsequent offenses. Contact the Police Department at 617 796-2100 to report uncleared business sidewalks. Currently, there is no residential fine.
What about the elderly or people with medical conditions that make it difficult or impossible to remove the snow?
Newton has an exemption from the residential sidewalk snow ordinance for residents who have a ‘combination of health and financial duress’. Contact the Senior Center (617) 796-1660 or download the application for an exemption here.
What if I don’t have a paved sidewalk abutting my property?
The city does not expect residents to remove snow if there is no paved sidewalk. If there is a level walkway, residents are encouraged to clear for those pedestrians who need a safe haven from traffic.
Why can’t people just walk on the streets?
Drivers do not expect to see pedestrians in the street and are not looking for them. Pedestrians, especially those with strollers or using wheelchairs, take up a wider berth and are not safe walking in the road. It’s also difficult to see pedestrians in the dark, rain or snow.
What if a contractor dumps snow on the sidewalk?
It is illegal in Newton for a contractor or anyone else to plow or dump snow onto a sidewalk. Newton Ordinances fine $100 for the first dumping offense, $200 for the second, $300 for all subsequent offenses. Contact the Police Department at 617 796-2100 to report plowing or dumping of snow on sidewalks.
Why should I be required to clear my sidewalk when the city doesn’t clear all the sidewalks abutting its property?
The Federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires the City to maintain access to City ‘programs, services, and activities’, this includes removing snow and ice. The City has committed to clearing sidewalks on all public property. If they are missing a walk, call (617) 796-1000 or online at Newton 311.
What if I am away when it snows?
Property owners need to make arrangements to have snow removed if they won’t be doing it themselves.
What if I shovel the snow from my sidewalk and then someone slips and falls? Am I liable?
“If a property owner knows or reasonably should know of a dangerous condition on its property, whether arising from an accumulation of snow or ice, or rust on a railing, or a discarded banana peel, the property owner owes a duty to lawful visitors to make reasonable efforts to protect lawful visitors against the danger.” Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Cout, Papadopoulos v. Target, 457 Mass. 368 (July 26, 2010)