With the heavy snow still impacting many areas in town, the Darien Police Department’s Lt. Don Anderson provided the following information regarding the town’s snow clearing ordinances:
In brief, 66-5 requires the owners of property abutting sidewalks in the Town of Darien to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks. The ordinance requires that this must be done “within 24 hours of the snow or ice being formed or having been deposited upon the abutting sidewalk.” The fine under the ordinance is $90 per day that the condition persists.
As always, we try to take a reasonable and common sense approach to the enforcing of this ordinance. Town officials are looking first and foremost for voluntary compliance from our residents simply to ensure the safety of all pedestrians. Infractions, with the monetary fine attached, are used only when reasonable compliance efforts are not taken in a timely fashion. Typically, when the Police Department or the Public Works Department receives a complaint of snow not being removed from sidewalks, we will contact the property owner and advise and/or remind them that the sidewalk must be made passable. We find that this advisement usually results in the sidewalk being cleared fairly quickly.
Given the recent massive snowfall, we understand the effort required to remove it from some areas. That said, some reasonable effort must be made, especially in the high pedestrians usage areas such as around schools and in the commercial business districts, to make the sidewalks passable. People walking in the street, especially around parked cars and mounds of snow which might hamper driver visibility, is very dangerous.
What if the property owner is older or disabled and cannot physically remove the snow or ice?
The Darien Department of Social Services complies a list of seniors (62 years of age or older) and disabled residents in town whose property abuts a sidewalk and cannot clear or arrange for the clearing of their sidewalk. Arrangements are made through Social Services for the clearing of those sidewalks, either through a contract with a private company or through a list of volunteers. Residents should contact Social Services who will assist them in this situation. Social services then updates the list that is provided to the police department.
If the property involves a landlord/tenant agreement, is it the tenant or the landlord who is responsible for the snow removal?
This is something that should be spelled out in a lease agreement between the parties but, under the ordinance, it is the owner of the property who is ultimately responsible to ensure that the snow and ice is removed. Property owners of record can be located through tax records and the ordinance allows for hand delivery of the citation (if local) or certified mailing to the last known address of the property owner. Our officers carefully weigh the facts of each individual situation and are quite successful in determining who is ultimately responsible for compliance under both the letter and the spirit of the ordinance.
I was issued a citation and I don’t feel it was fair or warranted. Can I appeal it?
Yes; According to 66-5, the First Selectman shall appoint one or more “snow removal citation hearing officers” to conduct hearings from residents who may wish to contest the citation. Police officers, or others governmental officials who issue such citations, are precluded from appointment as a hearing officer.
“Timely, voluntary and reasonable compliance to ensure pedestrian safety is our main objective,” Anderson said.