The Ridgewood Village Council last Wednesday dismissed a plan hatched by village staff that would have forced residents to clear snow between the sidewalk and the curb.
Village Engineer Chris Rutishauser told the council that when are above the height of 16 inches – by his estimation, half the size of the average kindergartner – the lack of visibility presents a safety issue, as seen during the brutal winter of 2010-2011.
"The reason we look at 16-inch maximum height for the snow to be allowed to remain between the curb and the sidewalk is primarily to enhance the visibility of the kids that walk to school," Rutishauser said. "We don't want to have situations where kids might come out from behind a snow wall unexpectedly for a motorist in a slippery environment."
Council members, however, were less than enthused by the plan.
Councilman Tom Riche said it placed a "tremendous" burden on the resident to have to shovel an area that is grass, especially for seniors.
Particularly irksome, he said, was the fact that very often a resident will finish clearing their section only to find the village has cleared the street and pushed snow piles onto the curb/sidewalk again.
The intent of the plan seemed good, commented Mayor Paul Aronsohn, but forcing residents to go back and forth to clear snow wasn't the answer.
Council members suggested the village work on better coordinating snow clearings with the school district in areas surrounding the schools and consider putting "some teeth" into fines, but fell short of endorsing the plan.
The current ordinance states that residents currently have 24 hours from the last snowfall to clear their sidewalks or face a potential fine of $40.
The snow removal pitch is just the latest plan from village staff that envisioned residents being responsible for greater levels of maintenance at right-of-ways and sidewalks.
Last fall, council members pushed back on a that would have forced residents to incur maintenance costs of trees between the village-owned curb and sidewalk.
Similarly, a proposed policy change that would have forced residents to was rejected by the council on Wednesday.
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