Fact Or Fiction: NY State Law Requires You Shovel Your Sidewalk
Depending on which end of New York you’re on, your snow shovel has either been putting in overtime or sitting lonely in the garage. It’s been a very mild winter for snow around Albany. In Buffalo? A much different story. But with our most-historically-snowy days ahead of us, it’s good to know the rules about shoveling in Upstate NY.
Obviously, you have to take care of your own driveway and parking lots if you own property. But what about your sidewalks? Technically they’re government property. If you don’t have to clean the street, do you really have to shovel snow off the sidewalks? Here’s what New York says:
While the state has strict rules about streets and highways, there’s no New York law that requires you to clear snow from sidewalks on your property, but that’s only because they leave that up to county and city governments.
Not only do cities and counties in Upstate New York require sidewalks to be cleared by law, most local governments will fine you and might even actually lock you up in jail if you don’t. Here’s where you need to get shoveling – and fast.
The City of Albany puts the responsibility of clearing sidewalks on property owners.
All sidewalks adjacent to your property must be cleaned within 24 hours of the completion of the storm. If this is not done, the property will be cleaned and the owner will receive a fine and a bill for the service performed.
So technically you can have the city do it for you… but its definitely not a free service. The city recommends periodically clearing the sidewalks throughout a winter storm to make it easier to meet the deadline. What about other Capital Region towns?
Schenectady has the same 24-hour rule as Albany. Troy will only give you until the morning after. Per the city,
Residents are reminded that sidewalks adjacent to their property must be cleared of snow by 10:00am the day following the end of the storm.
The Collar City will fine anyone who doesn’t remove snow and ice from their sidewalks $75. Rensselaer is even more strict – you could be jailed for up to six months for not clearing the sidewalk in a timely fashion. Glens Falls could also lock you up for a lesser maximum of 15 days if you don’t clear snow within a very quick five hours after a storm ends.
Also in Upstate, Utica’s public works site only states, “Snow removal on sidewalks is the responsibility of the property owner.” No word if they’ll throw you in the pokey or if a fine is headed your way.