The sidewalk along this section of Smallwood Street remained snow and ice covered early Wednesday, but had melted by late afternoon.

John A. Bone
Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND - A quick tour Wednesday morning of parts of the Queen City revealed some sidewalks lined with hardened snow and ice accumulations at their outside borders.

But by mid-afternoon, remnants of last week's snow and ice storm were quickly disappearing, thanks to a thaw job from Mother Nature.

Under Cumberland city municipal code 22-9, snow removal is the responsibility of the property owner within a 24-hour period after the snow ends. A path at least half the width of the walkway must be cleared of all ice and snow to allow easy passage and to comply with the city code.

City Administrator Jeff Repp said Wednesday he has not received any complaints about snow-covered sidewalks this year. But that's not unusual.

"In the last 13 years, we've probably only issued a couple letters to property owners to advise them of the municipal code on snow removal and their responsibility as property owner," said Repp.

Last week's snowstorm, with accompanying sleet, has left compacted mounds of hardened snow at the edge of many privately owned sidewalks in the city. No surprise, since it is illegal to toss snow into city streets.

As for commercial areas, the city code requires "owners, occupants, or agents" in charge of any building or unimproved lot to clear away snow within six hours after the fall of any snow.

City code 22-9, titled "Removal of snow from sidewalks," specifies that it is unlawful to pile or heap snow in the gutters or those portions of public streets or public ways designated for vehicular traffic.

So piling it at the edge of the sidewalk apparently is not illegal.

Failure to remove the snow in a timely fashion, however, is another matter. Violations of the city code constitute a municipal infraction punishable by a fine of up to $100.

Chuck Winebrenner, the city's municipal code enforcement officer, has received some complaints.

"The majority of the complaints deal with properties where they're vacant or the back end of properties," he said.

For example, if a home fronts Decatur Street but is back against Bellevue, the resident often clears the front section but doesn't do the back end. Most people, however, take care of the problem as soon as they're notified by Winebrenner.

While the normal fashion of communication from Winebrenner to violators is certified letters, the current warm-up has pre-empted that process since the snow and ice have usually melted before the letter arrives and a re-inspection by the city.

Winebrenner said he tries to notify property owners individually. "It's quicker and the problem is resolved faster," he said.

To the east, the city of Hagerstown gives homeowners and property owners 24 hours to clear the snow from sidewalks. And if they don't do it in the allotted time, the city hires contractors to remove the snow.

Hagerstown's code requires violators to pay a $60 administrative fee in addition to the cost of the snow removal. Violators who ignore two notices to comply with the snow removal ordinance are subject to a $200 fine.

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