NJ towns not equal when it comes to fines for not shoveling
I think most homeowners worry more about what would happen if they don’t shovel the sidewalk and someone slips and gets injured. Or claims they were injured. But do you ever worry what your township would do to you if you didn’t shovel the public sidewalk that runs in front of your house?
NJ.com had some eye-opening comparisons. Before I even get into this, let me point out it’s not commonly enforced. Warnings are more common. Yet if they want to pursue it some towns can be more punitive than others.
For instance, in Summit they give you 24 hours after a snowfall to shovel that sidewalk. If you don’t, you could get hit with a $50 fine; $75 if you get rid of snow by throwing it or blowing it into the roadway. Seems reasonable.
Yet a few miles away in Morristown, people who fail to clear snow from sidewalks will have the city’s public works department show up and do the job themselves, then that cost is sent to the tax department and a lien is placed on your property and collected as taxes. Wow! What, no public flogging?
Some towns are super strict. Businesses in Jersey City are expected to clear snow within eight hours of the end of snowfall or within eight hours of sunrise. Residences there have only four hours. I get it in that it’s much more of a walking town than most, but still — yikes!
Even how wide a path you shovel is often regulated. Woodbridge has to be at least three feet wide. Summit requires two feet for certain properties, four feet for others. After all, we live in the Dirty Jerz, where EVERYTHING has to be a law.
Keep in mind these are all for the public sidewalks. The walks that branch off up to your door on your property are your business and there’s never a law about that. But if someone injuries themselves on your private sidewalk it can result in a civil case against you. Can you say soft tissue injury, boys and girls?
Who do I feel bad for in all this? The elderly. It can be hard these days to find kids willing to shovel snow for money. And many unfortunate elderly folks just don’t have the money even if they could find someone.
We’re expecting more snow over the next week. So if you live near anyone like that, think about being a decent neighbor and lend them a hand.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.