City to enforce sidewalk snow clearing order

Posted at 12:22 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 17:56:17-05

A city-wide sidewalk clearing ordinance will go into effect Wednesday morning, requiring all property owners to shovel a path for pedestrians or face a fine.

Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano announced at a press conference Tuesday that the ordinance requires residential and commercial property owners to shovel a two-foot path of sidewalk wide enough for pedestrians to pass through.

Fines of $50 for homeowners and $100 for commercial properties will be issued to anyone not in compliance, according to Graziano.

Property owners must also remove ice and snow from gutters and storm drains to allow a clear flow as snow melts.

RELATED: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gives Tuesday snow removal update

“If you have neighbors who are elderly or otherwise in need, I urge you to help them with that requirement,” he said.

Graziano says the sidewalk ordinance is typically enforced within six hours after the end of a snow storm, but given the magnitude of this historic blizzard, the city allowed a three-day grace period.

The city will begin enforcing the ordinance first in commercial areas and along bus routes to move pedestrians back to sidewalks and off the main roads.

It's an order that didn’t sit too well with David Martak, a Baltimore County resident who helps operate the North East Food Pantry located within the Harford Senior Center on Harford Road.

Martak says he grew up in Baltimore, and knows the sidewalk ordinance is a city mandate after a snow storm, yet he found the tone and timing of the requirement to be “rather harsh.”

“I’m compassionate to people in the city,” Martak said. “I’m compassionate enough to say this is an unreal storm, but I need the city to be more compassionate. They’re going to have to give us a little more slack if they want us to give them more slack.”

The food pantry is working to dig out its property and get back to business, but Martak says that won’t happen overnight.

“It’s not that I don’t understand, I just think they should have compassion because we’re trying to get all the work done,” he said. “It’s going to take a little bit more time.”