Sidewalk Shoveling Bylaw Not Yet Ready for Weekend Snow 'Storm'

Snow shoveling bylaw has yet to be approved by state AG's office as it waits under a pile of paperwork.

For those who opposed Belmont's newest bylaw requiring homeowners to lug out their shovels and clear their walks of snow after the white stuff falls, you will have reason to rejoice. 

When the season's first measurable snow fall comes this weekend, you can relax and watch it accumulate without fear of being nicked as a shoveling scafflaw due to the pile of year-end paperwork at the state's Attorney General's office.

Belmont Town Administrator David Kale confirmed to Belmont Patch on Thursday, Dec. 12, that Attorney General Martha Coakley has yet to give her final OK to the town's new bylaws – the snow removal measure as well as a demolition delay article – approved by the special Town Meeting on Nov. 5. 

Under state law, Coakley has up to 90 days to review if the local bylaws' pass state constitution muster. 

"[Coakley] has not yet approved the bylaw," said Kale who said town officials had requested the AG's office to expedite the process as winter approached.

"They said they would try to sign off on the bylaws but I now suspect that we will not see that happen until early January," said Kale.

"Therefore, there is no official bylaw in Belmont as of today that requires residents to shovel their sidewalks after this pending [storm]," said Kale.

The AG's inaction comes just as Belmont and the region is about to be hit by the first true snow event of the season.    

The National Weather Service said on Thursday morning that there’s a “high probability for a winter storm” that will bring at least six inches of snow to Southern New England on Saturday and into Sunday.

NWS forecasters predict that northwest and west of Boston could get more than six inches of heavy snow, while Boston, the coastline and points south will get a rain/snow mix that may mean six inches of snow before changing over to rain.

Meanwhile, 7News is predicting 6 to 9 inches west of Boston; 3-6 inches Boston, North Shore and east of Route 95 south of Boston; and 1-3 inches on the Cape and the Islands.

7News’ Jeremy Reiner said the weekend storm hasn’t even formed yet, but he expects: 

  • The first flakes will hit between 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday.
  • Snow and mixed precipitation will be heavy Saturday evening into Sunday morning.
  • Travel will be difficult from Saturday evening through midday Sunday.
  • The storm should leave the area around 2 p.m. Sunday.
Adriana Poole December 13, 2013 at 07:56 AM
I called the Town Clerk's office on Wednesday to ask if the bylaw is enforceable. I was told it is even though it's waiting for final approval from the Attorney General's Office and that might take until February. A separate town's employee told me that same day that as a matter of fact they were mailing a letter (from the Selectmen) and a brochure to everybody. This is supposed to arrive tomorrow. I can't wait to see what that letter says. I then sent an email to a bunch of neighbors in my attempt to feed them the official info and protect them from getting the first warning/then fines. I am a TMM so I was just trying to do my job. Imagine my surprise reading the article this morning! If only the right hand knew what the left was doing…
Franklin Tucker (Editor) December 13, 2013 at 10:35 AM
In fact, the brochures are on their way to homeowners and you will not be fined for not shoveling your walk until the AG gives the town the OK. But still, I will shovel after the snow ends. How else can I get the Sunday New York Times?
Adriana Poole December 13, 2013 at 11:20 AM
Oh, I do too! Most people on our street are very good about it, plus we all help each other when needed. There are however a few who NEVER clean up their sidewalks. It's a disgrace. The worst offenders are some corner lot owners. Those little kids who walk to school have to zig-zag going from the shoveled sidewalks to the road, the parents have to go with them to keep them safe, the roads are narrower because of the piles of snow -it's not pretty. When the weather is fine most of those kids walk to all three schools by themselves, we don't have school busses in our district as we are too small.
Adriana Poole December 13, 2013 at 12:26 PM
If only it was that simple. To point out just one thing of the many I can think of – all towns around us have this bylaw, Belmont is the only one without one. I worked with Ralph in a few occasions and I saw nothing but a very decent, concerned and involved citizen. He may not be perfect, none of us is. I think that only for the endless hours he gave to this town to serve all of us to his best abilities and he deserves nothing but respect. I wouldn’t take the Selectmen job if you gave me a bag of money! As for the bylaw and Ralph not having a sidewalk to shovel, well, where he lives nobody could walk to anywhere safely in winter. The town should also pay for all our children’s education; it’s supposed to be “public” education after all not semi-public. Yet, those who don’t have children in the school system don’t pay activities fees whereas those of us who do pay, and quite hefty ones. We only have one child and our fees this year were way over $1,000 for marching band and one sport. I can’t even imagine how it is to have more children, maybe some who want to do more than one sport. I know cases in which parents can’t afford that. Is it fair? No. But you can’t please everybody, be fair AND have the taxes go up yearly only by 2 ½ % . So it will always be unfair for some, the roads will be bad and many things will not be kept up. Sure the town could shovel the sidewalks but our taxes would have to be going up accordingly.
Lee Adams December 13, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Addressing the Snow Removal Bylaw: 1)My immediate neighbors as myself shovel the public sidewalks in front of our houses each and every snow fall and have done so for years without threat of being fined. I don’t see a problem here where developing community spirit was never tried and fines quickly adopted. 2)Requiring a height limit on the snow where the sidewalk and street abut is ludicrous. Does Ralph Jones believe we need to move this snow from the public sidewalks and onto our property? Not happening for me. 3)Property owners are required to treat for ice at their expense. The Town has never treated my sidewalks for ice. Why didn’t Ralph Jones’ bylaw provide resources where the citizen can get FREE sand/salt to use. I’m won’t be spending my hard earn money to treat public sidewalks. I will treat my walkways and driveway. 4)I was given a $300 ticket several years back for throwing snow from the bump out in front of my house back onto Trapelo Road from that crazy winter we had. Street plowing was extremely difficult that year and the snow at the end of the bump out almost 2-feet into the drive lane of Trapelo Road. Not near Trapelo Road but into Trapelo Road. Please tell me you or your family members would eagerly go onto Trapelo Road to remove snow? The Belmont Police Department and its incompetent Officer cited me with the maximum fine possible for a MA bylaw violation ($300) instead of addressing the real problem of public safety – a citizen needs to go onto Trapelo Road to remove snow to access their driveway. I spent countless hours preparing my case for the Board of Selectmen hearing to remove the snow on the bump out which they did 2 weeks later. I spent countless hours preparing my defense for the contested ticket to explain and justify why I shouldn’t have to be expected to risk harm to person or property. I never had a court date since I believe the Town did some back door dealing to stop the motion. It’s dangerous to give the Town the power to issue fines as such. I saw that firsthand and the abuse of it. How was this fair to me? 5)Ralph Jones states this is about public safety. Let’s look at some facts. Do your research and you’ll never find a fatality in the winter season in Belmont. Instead you’ll find such fatality throughout the year with our citizen being hit or killed crossing our street in daylight on dry days. The most recent occurrence was an elderly Belmont man struck by a motor vehicle at School Street intersection just before 10:00 AM on Tuesday, October 22, 2013. This was a hit and run. Where his public safety concern here? 6)The motorist travel in excess of the speed limit throughout our road – such as Trapelo Road, Concord Ave, Pleasant Street to mention a few. I complained numerous time to the all Selectmen for years and this falls on deaf ears. What has he done for this? 7)Ralph Jones supports the bump out placing the property owners in harm’s way removing snow and entering/exiting their driveway. Having the bump out in front of my house for over 10 years I can say it doesn’t work contrary to the MIT eggheads who developed it. Cars travel faster, fail to stop at so called highly visible signs and create more work for the property owners. Does Ralph Jones have a bump out to share some stories about? 8)Ralph Jones feels the Snow Bylaw is the right thing to do yet he’s excluded by its consequences. This bothers me fundamentally of the “do as I say not as I do” mindset. Since Ralph Jones doesn’t have a sidewalk to shovel he’s more than welcome to help shovel the bump out he believes in and we can discuss the real public safety. 9)Our older, disable or those unable to shovel the snow must either pay someone to do it or face fines. This is wrong. 10)I know many landscapers that were glad when Newton passed their Snow Removal Bylaw. Their laughing all the way to the bank due to the extra work. That’s money coming out of people’s pockets.
Lee Adams December 13, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Your other issues: I pay my taxes as you do. I don’t have children and 53% of my property taxes supports our educational system benefiting your child. Belmont spends almost $11,000 per child per year in its education if memory serves me correct. It is “public” education and I doubt your taxes are paying your child’s total educational cost. The extra perks you want and “fees” you’re paying is a different matter. I agree with you and I think it’s wrong forcing parents to pay up. Today’s children are being cheated by not having the same resources I (we) had. The problem isn’t the 2 ½% tax increase as you say, but rather our elected leaders failing to live within their financial means as you and I do. The Selectmen are not serving the public and this included Ralph Jones. What have they done to reduce the Town’s debt, reduce operating expenses, pay its $240-million debt obligations, pay for capital projects, maintain infrastructure, improve the poor public service we currently receive, eliminate pensions we can no longer afford, do away with police detail using bring on flagmen instead as the 49 other states do, negotiate with the unions that benefit the Town as a whole instead of the greedy union members, and the list goes on. The tax and spend thinking if flawed. Please feel free to contact me should you have some ideas how to get the Town financially sound. I would welcome and maybe support some them.
Waverly Watchdog December 16, 2013 at 11:15 PM
This is how snow is actually treated in Belmont: It starts to snow; The DPW plows snow from the roads onto the Tree Lawns and sidewalks; plowing CONTINUES for hours or, often, days after the cessation of the snow, resulting in berms several feet high. So, EVEN IF a homeowner clears the sidewalk completely, in compliance with the proposed ByLaw, the Town CONTINUES to put additional snow and ice onto the homeowner cleared sidewalk. Furthermore, as the snow melts, the sidewalk gets wet and then refreezes into sheet ice. It is all but IMPOSSIBLE to comply with the proposed ByLaw. This proposed ByLaw is simply a tool to harass homeowners and raise revenue through excessive fines. It is yet ANOTHER overreach by nanny state loving politicians, at least one of whom has no skin in the game. Furthermore, it yet ANOTHER hidden Tax Increase... forcing the Town's citizens to shoulder costs rightfully born by the Town. Furthermore, it is grossly inefficiuent. The town has powered machiners that can clear sidewalks rapidly, and buys salt in wholesale quantitiues. Homeowners are forced to do this by hand and at retail, or hire some ripoff landscaper at a hundred or more dollars per snowfall. Exactly the same nonsense ocurred when the leaf sucker was discontinued. Again, homeowners were forced to do by hand what the Town did for free. The Editor should inquire of the Town, how many employees have lost theit jobs... and some certainly should have... because there is less work. Does anyone want to bet on the number? I'll bet ZERO. I would urge everyone who thinks this bylaw is an utterly stupid idea to take pictures and report any and all violations of the bylaw by Town Officials and TMMs who voted for this nonsense.
Waverly Watchdog December 17, 2013 at 10:57 AM
Adriana Poole wrote: The worst offenders are some corner lot owners. Those little kids who walk to school have to zig-zag going from the shoveled sidewalks to the road, the parents have to go with them to keep them safe, the roads are narrower because of the piles of snow -it's not pretty. When the weather is fine most of those kids walk to all three schools by themselves, we don't have school busses in our district as we are too small. - Appatrently, Ms Poole hAS NOT ACTUALLY READ THE BYLAW, OR DOES NOT UNDERSTAND IT. The piles of snow at the corners are NOT on the sidewalks... they are on the road. - But, never mind. Next year TMMs will pass another bylaw rrequiring homeowners to shovel the strres too. - The nanny state has no limits.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something