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Public Works Clarifies Snow Responsibilities

By Pam Johnson

Publication: Shore Publishing

Published December 10. 2012 4:00AM   Updated December 11. 2012 3:49PM

NORTH BRANFORD - As residents ready their snow shovels for winter, the Public Works Department released a letter on Dec. 7 to clarify issues that are bound to come up when it comes time to clear snow from roads and driveways.

The letter opens with this note:

"As we come into the colder months, the Public Works Department would like to clarify some of the issues that have come up when plowing snow. It is The Public Works Department's main goal to make the streets passable and safe for travel as soon as possible so we ask for your cooperation and patience during these times so we have a safe season for all.

"Residents should keep in mind that snow plows are designed to remove snow from the roadway to the edge of the road. It is likely that the plow will leave behind a windrow of snow in front of driveways. Residents are responsible for removing this snow."

In addition, the letter explains private plows depositing snow from private driveways into public streets, to the point of hindering traffic, is prohibited-included piles pushed across the street from a cleared property, and any windrows (resulting rows of snow) that are created in the street. Violators are subject to a fine for every offense; homeowners may be held responsible for their contractor's actions.

All residents are also responsible for keeping their mailboxes clear for mail delivery. When it comes to weathering snow removal activity, the letter explains the proper placement, support, and anchoring of a mailbox is key to keeping it intact when snow removal operations are in play. The department recommends mailboxes be installed 12 inches from the face of curb or edge of road, closed door in, to prevent contact by a snow plow. The mailbox base should be between 42 inches and 48 inches from the road surface and securely fastened to a sturdy post that's sufficiently anchored in the ground to resist the impact of plowed snow.

Recognizing that mailboxes do get struck by plows from time to time, the Town of North Branford will reimburse the owner for a basic support post and basic mailbox. Payment doesn't include costs of decorative wood or metal posts or mailboxes. If a dispute arises, the town manager (in this case, Interim Town Manager Bonnie Therrien) or her designated representative is authorized to use "reasonable discretion" to reach a resolution, according to the letter.

However, if a mailbox is hit by snow coming off the plows, the town will no longer be replacing those mailboxes. The letter from Public Work states "we will only replace mailboxes that are physically hit by a plow truck."

Another unfortunate target (or obstacle, depending on the point of view) of snow plows: trash cans and recycling bins.

"All trash cans and recycling bins should never be put on the roadside. If a plow truck hits them because they are in the road, we will not be held responsible for replacing them," the letter states.

In addition, the first 10 feet from the curb is town-owned property and anything in that space will not be the responsibility of the town if damaged during plowing or other snow removal from the roads. That includes any and all plantings, sprinkler heads, walls, and fences (including "invisible" dog fences) within the first 10 feet from the curb.

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