Open Letter To Homeowners In Western New York
While many homeowners in Western New York have been prioritizing the snow removal from their driveways and front door steps, you may be responsible when it comes to clearing other parts of the pavement.
Actually, in the event that a pedestrian had to walk on the street because your sidewalk wasn’t cleared, you could be held responsible if something happened to that person.
If your sidewalk path is still covered in snow, you will have to take care of that as soon as possible if you want to avoid a fine.
While most walkers in the Western New York area are probably aware that there is a risk walking on pavement that has accumulated snow and ice, it is technically your responsibility as a homeowner to clear the sidewalk for them. And if you don’t, you are breaking New York law.
“The owner or occupant of lands fronting or abutting on any street, highway, traveled road, public lane, alley or square shall make, maintain and repair the sidewalk adjoining his lands and shall keep such sidewalk and the gutter free and clear of and from snow, ice and all other obstructions.
Such owner or occupant, and each of them, shall be liable for any injury or damage by reason of omission, failure or negligence to make, maintain or repair such sidewalk or failure or negligence to keep such sidewalk and the gutter free and clear of and from snow, ice and all other obstructions.”
That means, yeah…you can get sued if your sidewalk is not clear.
In New York City, they have strict guidelines as to when the snow has to be removed. You can see NYC311 law below:
“If the snow stops falling between:
7 AM and 5 PM, you must clear sidewalks within 4 hours
5 PM and 9 PM, you must clear sidewalks within 14 hours
9 PM and 7 AM, you must clear sidewalks by 11 AM”
One Lancaster resident alleged that there is a grace period for sidewalk snow removal following a state of emergency winter storm.
However, I called the office of Governor Hochul, and one of her agents said there was no firm law on that grace period. “That’s more of a localized issue,” the agent said.
We reached out to a few local areas (Cheektowaga, Lancaster, and Depew) to find out the status of this “grace period,” but we have been unable to get a clear answer as to what that is.
If I were you, I wouldn’t risk waiting to remove the snow from the sidewalks. It’s better for everyone to remove it sooner rather than later.
Not to mention…if you have a bus stop or a fire hydrant in front of your property, you are also responsible for removing snow and ice from the sidewalks surrounding those areas as well.
If every homeowner cleared their portion of the sidewalk, it would be cleared relatively quickly and pedestrians would be able to safely walk to where they are going again.
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