Question: is this just another way for a town to exact a user fee on its citizens – or is Toms River really concerned about the safety of pedestrians during this harsh winter?
The answer is probably a little of both.

Toms River will be the latest town to require residents to shovel the walks in front of their homes once it snows or risk a fine. Fines will be assessed for each day snow is not removed from a property.

So if you’re infirm, elderly, perhaps on vacation or otherwise not around; you’ll be responsible for the maintenance of your walk.

Spring might be just around the corner, but the municipal government plans to crack down on residents who fail to remove snow and ice from sidewalks in front of their homes.

The Township Council adopted an ordinance Tuesday night that establishes “a clear and workable mechanism” for punishing homeowners and tenants who skirt their legal obligation to make conditions safe for pedestrians, particularly for children who walk to school.

The vote was 7-0 and no resident spoke during a public hearing on the matter.

Residents who fail to comply with the ordinance are subject to a fine of at least $100 for the first offense and $200 for each subsequent offense, although the fines are not to exceed more than $1,000. Each day that a sidewalk is not cleared of snow and ice is considered a separate offense. The penalties are not to be imposed until one day after a notice of violation is made to a resident, according to the ordinance.

Notices of violation may be appealed in writing directly to the township administrator no later than five business days from the date of the recorded offense. The administrator is then required to order an inspection of the site. If the snow and ice has been removed by that time, the administrator will issue a written determination to sustain or rescind the violation, the ordinance reads.

The municipal Division of Code Enforcement is responsible for making certain that residents obey the ordinance. Code enforcement officers are to be dispatched to offending private properties on the basis of public complaints made to the township.

I agree in principal with the proposal. Too many people wait for the thaw to happen causing pedestrians to negotiate iced beds in front of homes, or just walk into the path of oncoming cars.

However, I wonder if the town will make allowances for those who may not be physically able to shovel.

And if they’re so disposed, then perhaps they can dispatch some soon-to-be parolees from the county jail to clean snow from the fronts of those homes.

And not charge them!

God knows, there's enough manpower there.

What say you?