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Plan to Force More Snow Removal Tasks onto Residents Iced

Proposal just the latest plan by village staff to shift more responsibility onto homeowners.

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.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor James Kleimann at James.Kleimann@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

J.D. Luke July 17, 2012 at 10:46 AM
I use a big two-stage snowblower and am quite happy to clear my sidewalk, my neighbors' sidewalk, the driveway, and paths for pedestrians at the corner. But the area between the sidewalk and street? Who comes up with these ideas? This would be more than just an inconvenience, as the copious amounts of salt and small stones which get mixed in would then have to sit on our lawns, doing expensive (and ugly) damage to plantings. I just don't think it's a realistic, workable, or sensible idea. I certainly agree about the aggravation caused when the plows come through after I've cleared my little part of the town. I swear the plow drivers take a perverse delight in piling up mounds of heavy, salty and icy snow in front of my driveway. They also seem to enjoy blocking off the paths that I've made from the sidewalk to the street on my corner.
RB July 17, 2012 at 12:33 PM
How about clearing the area between the sidewalk and the street around the schools. Talk about dangerous. Children can't get out of their cars and onto the sidewalk because between the snow plowed from the sidewalk and the snow pushed aside by the snowplows in the street the piles are quite high. Before they start mandating what homeowners should be doing, they should look at their own house first.
In The Wood July 17, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I already have to clear an extra 5 feet of snow in the street since the plows don't clear up to the curb in front of my house. Let's get them to do their job properly before asking more from residents.
JAFO July 17, 2012 at 01:38 PM
How about we first hold residents accountable for clearing their sidewalk?!?! My kids frequently have to walk in the street on the way to school because residents don't clear their sidewalks!
jp1 July 17, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Jafo agree 100%.
Marcia Ringel July 17, 2012 at 04:46 PM
That photo is very appealing today! Let's jump in!
Boyd A. Loving July 17, 2012 at 09:00 PM
A military surplus, backpack type flamethrower is the only solution to this problem. But, even one of those in operation might result in a series of unintended consequences.
RB July 17, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Boyd- That would cause the brook to overflow which in turn would flood the turf fields and wash out the bridge, which would flood village hall and destroy a number of village cars. Not to mention that such flooding would distract drivers and cause numerous pedestrian casualties.
Boyd A. Loving July 17, 2012 at 09:26 PM
As I suggested, a series of "unintended consequences" would likely result from use of the right tool for the job.
Paul July 18, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Boyd, You could use the military backpack flamethrower witch ,. Im sure you have in your garage next to your mulching lawn mower, To warm up my new Frozen Mulch Burgers!! Oh that got shot down. Never mind!!
Elizabeth Cox July 18, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Just a thought(before everyone freaks out) what if when you are shoveling your sidewalk and apron of your driveway that you pile the snow on your lawn instead of the area between the curb & sidewalk. that's not too hard, turn the shooter of your snowblower to face the direction of your house. i know my kids love extra snow on the grass, makes for better snowman-
J.D. Luke July 18, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I alluded to that in my post above. I'm not Roman, my property is not a subjugated territory, and I am not particularly keen on salting the earth. I live on a corner property, and one of my sidewalks runs along a busy, well-salted and well-plowed thoroughfare. Even if I were willing to do that kind of damage, my tall hedge plantings pretty much prevent that for most of the way.
Craig Hueneke July 18, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Hats off to the Council! What I don't get is that it's been snowing in NJ since... well I would assume the last Ice Age, and us humans probably shoveling snow for just about that long, and NOW all of a sudden it's a problem. You see friends and neighbors, I can appreciate watching out for our children, but you see when I was a kid there was this unwritten rule called "Common Sense" in that it's the parent's responsibility of making sure your child was safe and not the person operating a moving vehicle on the road in the snow. Not that the operator is not wanting to watch out for the life of a child of course. BUT what TOTALLY baffles me is why should the back-breaking responsibility of the home owner? It's a nobel thought, but if we don't teach these kids commonsense our species is doomed! As my father would say, "Sometimes, somethings need to be left to COMMON SENSE..wouldn't you agree?" Now after 40 years I finally get what he meant by that! Thanks Pops!

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