City of Somerville
Massachusetts

Agenda Item
198318
Placed on File
Mar 26, 2015 7:00 PM

That this Board discuss an amendment to the Snow Ordinance as it relates to the time frame for clearing sidewalks following a storm.

Information

Department:City CouncilSponsors:City Councilor At Large Mary Jo Rossetti, Ward Two Alderman Maryann M. Heuston, Ward Five City Councilor Mark Niedergang, Ward Four Alderman Tony Lafuente, Ward Seven City Councilor Katjana Ballantyne
Category:OrderPurposes:Order

Official Text

That this Board discuss an amendment to the Snow Ordinance as it relates to the time frame for clearing sidewalks following a storm.   

 

Meeting History

Jan 8, 2015 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
RESULT:APPROVED
Jan 15, 2015 6:00 PM  Legislative Matters Committee Committee Meeting

Chairman Rossetti contacted the Mass Municipal Association to inquire how other communities are handling their snow ordinances Responses were received from Fitchburg, Arlington and communities outside of Massachusetts. Some Somerville residents felt that the city’s ordinance was very narrow concerning the snow removal tmeframe. Mr. Shapiro distributed a document with various snow removal ordinances, gathered some time ago, as well as a copy of the city’s current snow removal ordinance. Ms. Collins discussed ISD's plan to enforce the ordinance and said that 6 health and 3 building inspectors would assist with enforcement. Mr. Boukili stated that ISD inspectors are equipped with iPads and software to enable offender to be tracked for repeat offenses. Alderman Heuston suggested doing away with the time on the ordinance and making the deadline a certain amount of hours after the snow has stopped. Mr. Koty stated that the city would still provide barrels with sand for residents. Chairman Rossetti received an email from a resident asking if the city could provide a webpage listing snow shovelers who would be available to the elderly or any community resident needing help.

There will be a public hearing on the city’s Snow Removal Ordinance on February 3rd at 7:00 PM.

The Legislative Matters Committee will meet, as a Committee of the Whole, on January 26th to discuss items 198318 and 198319, in preparation for the February 3rd public hearing.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Feb 5, 2015 6:00 PM  Legislative Matters Committee Committee of the Whole

Mr. Boukili reported that the sidewalks in the city look good and that only 100 citations were issued. He stated that there would be no change to the timeline and pointed out that the ordinance does not apply during snow emergencies, noting that snowfall below 4 inches is not considered an emergency. Members discussed the fear of being cited by some elderly residents who are unable to shovel, the policy and its enforcement, sidewalks being buried from plowing, allowing a reasonable amount of time for working families to clear their sidewalks and imposing a stricter timeline for businesses. The Law Department was requested to narrow out properties by the number of units, businesses, etc., and to provide a copy of the Federal Highway Administration’s regulations.

The public hearing on the city's snow removal regulations has been rescheduled for February 25th at 7:00 PM. Chairman Rossetti asked that the Administration provide feedback on this item, in the form of a draft ordinance, and post the draft on the city's website, prior to the public hearing.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Feb 19, 2015 6:00 PM  Legislative Matters Committee Committee Meeting

Mr. Shapiro distributed a copy of the current amended snow ordinance for discussion. This document will be available for the February 25th Public Hearing.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Feb 25, 2015 7:00 PM  Legislative Matters Committee Committee of the Whole
RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Mar 9, 2015 6:00 PM  Legislative Matters Committee Committee of the Whole
draft Draft

Mr. Shaprio distributed copies of the current city ordinance and Mr. Boukili spoke about the reasoning for snow emergencies to clear the streets and sidewalks in a reasonable amount of time. Mr. Boukili talked about the city maintaining a list of handicapped parking spots for snow removal and noted that the city maintains a list of 50-60 Somerville High School students who provide shoveling services for the city. Mr. Boukili distributed a list of properties that were ticketed from January 26th to date, totaling approximately 200 tickets. Chairman Rossetti asked if there is a way to find out how many of these properties are owned by absentee landlords. There was some discussion about possibly adding snow removal reminders to the city's welcome packet and tax bills, exploring what options the city may have to encourage the MBTA to remove snow from bus stops and the possibility of alternating parking from odd to even sides of streets during snow emergencies.

Alderman Connolly’s motion to amend the current hours of 10:00 AM. to 10:00 PM to 12 noon to 12 midnight failed on a Roll Call vote of 2 in favor, 6 against and 3 absent.

Chairman Rossetti made a motion for 12 hours and later withdrew the motion.

Alderman McLaughlin’s motion to revert back to the 6 hours between sunrise and sunset on any day, as stated in Sec. 12-8, was approved. (Chairman Rossetti voted against the motion)

Alderman Niedergang’s motion to change the swath of 42 inches in width, as stated in Sec. 12-8, to 36 inches was approved.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Mar 19, 2015 6:00 PM  Legislative Matters Committee Committee of the Whole

Mr. Shapiro discussed changes to the ordinance, the fine structure for certain property types and defining certain terms in the ordinance. Members discussed the importance of clearing snow from large vs. small commercial properties. Chairman Rossetti would like to know how many of the fines issued after the last storm were to absentee landlords and Alderman White requested that the Law Department research the ability of the city to fine absentee landlords differently.

Chairman Rossetti’s motion that the six hour timeline be changed to twenty four hours was defeated on a Roll Call vote of 1 in favor, 7 against and 3 absent.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Mar 26, 2015 6:30 PM  Legislative Matters Committee Committee of the Whole

Chairman Rossetti stated, for the record, that she is opposed to this ordinance as proposed and amended.

RESULT:APPROVED AS AMENDED
Mar 26, 2015 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

The Board approved a revised Snow Removal Ordinance submitted in #198708.

RESULT:PLACED ON FILE