Lehigh Valley

The rules of digging out after a snowstorm

The rules of digging out after a snowstorm

If you've been procrastinating about picking up the shovel, you could end up paying the price.

Many municipalities have rules about clearing your property in a timely fashion.

When the snow stops falling, the clock starts ticking for property owners. If you haven't shoveled the walkways near your home, time could be running out. Any property that is used by the public is your responsibility to clean.

"Residents have 24 hours to clear the sidewalks once the snow has completely stopped," explained Michael Alkhal, Bethlehem's director of public works, citing a Bethlehem city ordinance. "They have to have it clear and safe and passable for public use."

Crews don't patrol the streets looking for violators, however, you can be fined $300 if you don't comply, Alkhal said.

"Most of the time they'll be given some opportunity to remedy the situation before any fines would be evoked," added Alkhal.

The 24-hour rule is common around the region, but Allentown is a little more strict. Folks need to clear their walkways within 10 hours. 

According to an Allentown city ordinance, the path needs to be at least three feet wide, or you could face anywhere from a $25 to $100 fine.

"We have issued warnings," said Glenn Steckman, Easton's city administrator, adding that residents have eight hours to deal with their snowy sidewalks. That deadline passed at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

"We are an urban core community. We are a walkable community, so that's why it's important to make sure everybody gets as aggressive as they can in cleaning up the sidewalks," Steckman said.

Tickets can cost up to $300, but Easton workers said they will give people a warning before slapping them with the fine for violating the Easton city code.

"Our goal is to get the people to do it without being issued violations," Steckman said.

It's also illegal in Easton, Allentown and Bethlehem to shovel your snow into the street. You can be fined for that, as well.

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