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Hopkinton considers snow removal ordinance

February 10, 2011

HOPKINTON -- The Town Council discussed the possibility of a sidewalk snow removal ordinance for the town at its Feb. 7 meeting, much like the one in Westerly and other municipalities throughout the state.

After a brief back-and-forth on how to proceed, the councilors agreed that, perhaps, looking into crafting an ordinance should be the next step for the town.

For now, council Vice President Thomas Buck recommended that the Department of Public Works put together a list of areas in town that have sidewalks, such as the Main Street areas of Hope Valley and Ashaway.

Then, he wants to send out a voluntary letter to homeowners with sidewalks in front of their homes asking them to please shovel a path to prevent any possible injury to, for example, children walking to school.

It was Buck who proposed the idea of an ordinance. He said a resident approached him after the man, who was driving a truck in Ashaway, “took 20 years off his life” after he thought he was going to run over three students walking in the road.

The councilor explained that he believes it's better to be proactive with this issue than be reactive and wait for something truly awful to occur.

The council then discussed how to move forward, with most agreeing that an ordinance is probably not the best way to go just yet.

“Instead of making an ordinance, how about we send residents a notice to see how they react?” Buck asked. He said it can point out why the town wants the sidewalks cleared, which is primarily for safety, and then note that the council is considering an ordinance.

Council President Sylvia Thompson agreed. Sending a letter is the best method, she said, because “the people would go berserk” with an ordinance.

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