Despite repeated reminders about a town bylaw that requires sidewalks to be cleared of snow, many in Tisbury remain unshoveled after last week’s storm.
The Tisbury selectmen discussed their frustration about the ongoing problem at a meeting Tuesday night. They said the issue of noncompliance has become more of a concern in light of a recent Supreme Court decision that may increase legal liability for property owners that fail to remove snow and ice from their property.
The selectmen issued a press release yesterday to remind the public that Tisbury’s bylaw requires that a tenant, occupant, owner, or agent of any building or lot of land that borders on a street where there is a sidewalk must shovel it within four hours after snow ceases to fall, whether a residential or business property. If a storm occurs at night, sidewalks must be shoveled before 11 a.m. Violations may be ticketed by the Tisbury Police or building and zoning inspector and fined $20. Property owners who are seasonal residents or business owners should arrange for someone to shovel their walks.
A state Supreme Judicial Court decision this year ruled that property owners now can be held liable for injuries that are linked to any snow and ice on their land, regardless of whether the conditions were caused by nature or a city plow.
However, towns like Tisbury that have local ordinances still bear the ultimate responsibility for injuries that occur on municipal sidewalks. For that reason, selectman Geoghan Coogan, a practicing attorney, said Tuesday night it is important that Tisbury enforce its bylaw and impose fines to reduce the town’s liability.
Selectman chairman Jeff Kristal said the selectmen would work out the details of enforcement with the police and building inspector departments.
For anyone who has questions, comments or needs assistance in keeping sidewalks clear, call Mr. Bugbee at 508-696-4203.