Friday, January 30, 2009

It’s Snow Use

Walking Peanut to the bus stop the other day was a real challenge. Only about a third of the sidewalks in our neighborhood had been cleared of ice and snow. By Thursday morning the sidewalks that had not been shoveled were a solid sheet of ice. The result of this was that the kids had to walk in the street to get to the bus stop.

This kind of defeats the whole idea of a sidewalk.

According to Howard County Code, Section 18.402(h) “The owner of property abutting a sidewalk in a public right-of-way is responsible for removing snow from the sidewalk within 48 hours after the snow has fallen.”

This has to be one of the most ignored laws in the county.

A quick survey of neighborhoods in Columbia and Ellicott City found plenty of sidewalks like the one in the picture above. This particular sidewalk is along Downdale Place in the neighborhood of Elkhorn in the Village of Owen Brown. This picture was taken this morning.

Want to take action?

The Howard County Bureau of Highways suggests the following remedies for dealing with this problem:

“If a property owner has not removed the snow within 48 hours, you may want to contact the property owner and advise him or her of the County code. If you are unsure who owns a property, contact our Real Estate Services Division at 410-313-2330. If you have an exact address, they can look up the property owner and may be able to give you a contact name and number.

Another idea is to reach out and ask the property owner if he or she needs assistance. Although the property owner would like to comply with the law, many residents are physically unable to shovel snow and ice and are hesitant to request help from neighbors or friends. Your thoughtfulness can make a big difference to someone who might otherwise be unable to cope.

If you are willing to help remove snow for seniors or physically disabled individuals in your neighborhood who need help, please call Regina Jenkins of Howard County's MD Access Point at 410-313-1417 to volunteer for the "Snow Help" program.

As a last resort, to file a complaint, contact the Howard County Police Department at 410-313-2200.”