LYNN - Neglecting to shovel your sidewalk could translate to a fine or, worse, a lien on your property.
The City Council earlier this year revised the ordinance governing snow and ice removal. The ordinance was reviewed by the Law Department and could be enacted by the council on Tuesday.
The Inspectional Services Department (ISD) issues tickets that can be paid at the Parking Department or challenged at Lynn District Court.
All property owners are responsible for snow and ice removal from sidewalks to ensure pedestrian safety. Under the previous system, landlords were given four hours to remove accumulated snow from their sidewalks if the snow ceased falling between 7 a.m and 6 p.m. The provision will change so that owners of commercial property must clear sidewalks within three hours during snowfalls that occur between sunrise and sunset.
Residential property owners will have 10 hours to clear their sidewalks.
"We don't expect residential property owners to be out there shoveling at 3 a.m.," said ISD Director Michael Donovan. "But businesses have three hours after sunrise because people have to go to work."
He said property owners are also responsible for making openings in snow banks between the streets and sidewalks at crosswalks, street corners and bus stops.
Mailboxes erected at or near a gutter line must be durable enough to withstand snow-clearing efforts. U.S. Postal Service letter carriers will not deliver mail if the walkway is not cleared.
The ordinance also requires that sidewalks abutting corner homes or businesses be kept clear of snow and ice, the path made wide enough for a pedestrian pushing a stroller or using a wheelchair to safely pass.
Donovan noted that Lynn, like other communities, has begun complying with a state standard established by the Architectural Access Board on how wide a sidewalk must be clear.
"We're going with a minimum path of 42 inches to comply with the state agency that also handles the American With Disabilities Act," Donovan said, referring to Massachusetts General Law 40U.
The average sidewalk in Lynn is 48 inches wide.
"Landlords who throw or dump snow from their sidewalks into the street will be fined," he said.
If snow and ice is not removed within the prescribed time allotted by the ordinance, a second fine will be imposed.
Donovan said most ISD inspectors will issue a warning for the first offense and a $50 fine for the second.
"But if you throw your snow in the street, the fine is $100 for a first offense," he said. "You won't get a warning if you're caught doing that."
Few tickets were issued last winter because the city received only 32 inches of snowfall. "It was what I would call a nice winter," Donovan said.
Assessor Peter Caron said fines for failure to remove snow and ice will be added to the landlord's property tax bill if still unpaid by the year's end.
If the outstanding amount becomes substantial, the fines may become a property lien.
"We did tack on a number of liens for board-ups," said Caron.
He explained that fines are imposed on landlords whose foreclosed properties are not boarded up.
"If we have to hire a board-up company, we send the bill to the landlord. If it doesn't get paid, we get a lien on the property."