County Council Passes Snow Removal Bill
The Montgomery County Council passed what they are calling the snow removal bill on Oct. 21 with the goal of preparing the county for future snow seasons.
Backed by eight members of the council, and sponsored by Councilmember Hans Riemer, the bill requires a plan that includes a digital map of the county that shows who is responsible for clearing snow on each sidewalk in the county.
“We can do better, if we intend to do better. … The goal of this bill is to make our county more walkable in every season. This bill promotes public safety and mobility as well as resilience by making it safer for people to walk where they need to go,” Riemer said.
According to a press release, the bill was co-sponsored by Councilmember Nancy Navarro and had been unanimously recommended for council approval by the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee. The legislation requires the county executive to develop a sidewalk snow removal plan for publicly-owned land that prioritizes high-volume pedestrian routes, bus stops, school zones, along state highways, and urban districts; a digital map of the county that shows who is responsible for clearing snow and ice from each sidewalk in the county, and a public education campaign on property owners responsibilities for clearing snow and ice from their sidewalk.
Councilmember George Leventhal voted against the bill, but before doing so, he asked questions about the bill and what the current legislation does for residents. Leventhal questioned the need to pass legislation, the plan for trash removal during a major snow storm, and the fairness on deciding what roads should be considered priority.
Transportation officials said the intention of the bill was to fill in the gap under existing law- property owners in Montgomery County are required to remove snow and ice from sidewalks that are contiguous to their property within 24 hours.
According to county’s documents, the office of management and budget, estimated the annual cost to clear all sidewalks in the county to be $6 million.
Navarro said that these snowstorms “unfortunately” have become the new normal.
“Whatever vehicle a councilmember chooses to use; it could be a legislation, it could be a resolution, etc., everybody pretty much has the flexibility on pursing that. I think it’s relevant,” Navarro said.