Dot residents reminded of snow rules, warned of fines

Snow removal regulations and procedures have become even more significant in Boston this winter due to the unusually heavy snowfall. The city’s Inspectional Services Department is getting the word out to residents about how and when to clear sidewalks and parking spaces and how to deal with other snow removal issues by detailing the rules at local community meetings.

Dorchester residents were updated Monday evening at the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association meeting by ISD Code Enforcement chief Michael Mackan, a Dorchester resident, who described keeping up with the winter’s snowfall as challenging.

He reminded residents that because of a rule change in 2006, the city requires that a 42-inch wide path be cleared from sidewalks. The city has also appealed to neighbors to help clear catch basins, fire hydrants and handicap ramps.

“It’s challenging to figure out where you’re going to put the snow this year, but that’s the law,” said Mackan, who also noted that “space savers” in parking spots will be thrown away by trash collectors 48 hours after the end of an emergency.

“I live in Dorchester. I have a corner lot, so I have the pleasure of 50 feet in front and 100 feet down the side of shoveling at 42 inches,” Mackan said. “I have to make sure I do everything correctly. If I’m going to write a violation, I’d better have my house in order first.”

State Sen. Jack Hart has proposed temporarily suspending the ban on dumping snow in Boston Harbor, although Mayor Thomas Menino recently told WBZ that should be a “last resort.”

Separately, City Councillor Charles Yancey has called for a series of citywide hearings to look into the city’s snow removal efforts.

Residents at the meeting voiced concerns about particular areas of the neighborhood where sidewalks have not been cleared. Bruce Shatswell complained that the stretch of Columbia Rd. from Buttonwood St. to the JFK/UMass MBTA station is impassable.

Nancy Conrad of Uphams Corner said that she has called Code Enforcement repeatedly to report business violations and “it feels like Code Enforcement is not being effective.”

Mackan said that the violations are being tallied and that the people will likely face fines on their taxes under a new system in place this year. He said the fine for improper snow removal for residences is $50 a day, for an apartment building with 16 units or more, it’s $100, and for commercial buildings, it’s $200 a day.

The Code Enforcement division has 16 officers who enforce city and state regulations on trash removal, dumping, and illegal vending.

Clarification: An earlier version of this article implied that residents must clear catch basins, fire hydrants and ramps. In fact, this is not mandatory under city ordinance, but property owners have been asked to assist by clearing such items after a snowfall as part of Mayor Menino's "good neighbor" tips.