Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ February 2011

Shovel That Snow:  It’s Montgomery County Law

By Linda S. Perlman

Although it’s unlikely that there will be a repeat of last winter’s “snowpocalypse,” NFCCA residents should be aware of the snow shoveling requirements imposed by the Pedestrian Winter Safety Act (Montgomery County Code, Sec. 49-17).  This law requires all property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks on or adjacent to their property within 24 hours after the end of a snowfall.  The cleared pathway must be wide enough for safe pedestrian and wheelchair use.

The County’s “Wide Enough for Wheels” program states that a single shovel width is not enough.  People who use walkers, wheelchairs, baby strollers, rolling briefcases, etc., all should have 36" wide sidewalks and curb ramps for safe travel, especially when the walks are slippery or wet.  Our sidewalks are 46" wide, so you’d need to shovel most of it anyway.

MoCo’s “Wide Enough for Wheels” initiative states a single shovel width is not enough; 36" width is needed.  Note that sidewalks in our neighborhood are 46" wide.

If ice or hardpacked snow is impossible or unreasonably difficult to remove, then residents are responsible for applying sand, salt, or other abrasives in order to provide safe pedestrian passage.

In the event a snowplow redeposits snow or ice on the walkway after the sidewalk has been shoveled, then residents have an additional 24 hours to clear the sidewalk or other walkway.

There is no obligation to clear private walkways (i.e., up to the house) or driveways or unpaved walkways on the property of a single-family house or townhouse.  And individuals who live in multifamily residential properties (i.e., apartment houses) are not responsible for removing snow and ice from common walkways or from the common parking area.  In such cases, snow plowing is the responsibility of the landlord or property manager.

Snowplow Savvy

Montgomery County recommends you park your vehicles in your driveway before a snow storm.  If you do not have a driveway, park as close to the curb as you can.  Park your car on the even numbered side of the street, if possible.  Move your vehicle to the other side of the street after the plow has cleared it.

Another idea is to share your driveway during the storm:  let your neighbor without a driveway park behind your car in yours.  Once the road’s been plowed on both sides, you can both dig your cars out and your neighbor can park on a completely cleared street, which helps all of us in the neighborhood.

Be a good neighbor — and obey the law, too!  Snow and ice must be cleared from public sidewalks within 24 hours after the storm ends.

The enforcement process for residential properties is complaint-based.  The Montgomery County website includes an online form to report sidewalks that have not been shoveled more than 24 hours after the end of the snowfall or you can call 311; reports must have an exact address of the unshoveled sidewalk.  There is a similar form to report streets that have not been plowed 36 hours after the end of a 3"-5" snowfall, or call 240.777.7623.  Remember, however, that state-maintained, numbered roads in the County are cleared by the Maryland State Highway Administration, so call 301.948.2477.  After a complaint is received, the County will send a written warning notice advising the homeowner to clear the walkway of snow and ice within 24 hours.  If the violation remains unabated, then a citation with a $50 fine may be issued.  The County also may clear the snow or ice and charge the property owner for the cost.

Useful Snow Emergency Numbers

Please be good neighbors:  clear the sidewalk in front of your house of snow and ice and assist neighbors who may not be physically able to do so. Let’s take care of each other.   ■

   © 2011 NFCCA  [Source:]