Fredericksburg City Beat

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Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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Get those shovels ready.

The Wall Street Journal had a timely article this morning about how localities around the country are tightening their snow-shoveling ordinances. It turns out that the Southern city of Fredericksburg is ahead of at least one New England town when it comes to requiring residents to deal with snow in front of their homes:

In Newton, Mass., which doesn’t regulate snow removal for residents, officials are debating whether to impose a $50 penalty for not clearing sidewalks. Carleton Merrill, an 86-year-old alderman, opposes it. “I’m active,” he said. “But I know better than to go out and shovel snow. No way.”

In case you have been trying to block last winter out of your head forever, Fredericksburg’s ordinance requires residents to clear snow from sidewalks abutting their property within 12 hours of the snow ceasing to fall. You can be fined $50 if you don’t do this. Last year, city police distributed this flier to remind people of the rules.

And while we’re talking about last year, let’s revive the debate over proper etiquette when someone clears an on-street parking space. Does the shoveler have dibs?

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  • George

    I am certainly all about being neighborly and community minded, but my inner Libertarian makes me wonder how far up the appeals courts someone has ever taken one of these “failure to clear snow” fines?

    If this really is not a violation of rights, then what’s to say the city can’t mandate that everyone shovel the street in front of their house to the centerline and save money on snow removal? It really is the same issue, just a matter of degree…

    That said, I don’t have sidewalks in front of my house, but I would shovel them if I did just to be neighborly.

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  • TPKeller

    I am not a lawyer, but being that Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, and therefore, must derive authority from the State Code for any local ordinances, I would like to ask under what authority does the city have this ordinance on the books to begin with?

    I did a quick search in the LIS site (, and all I could find was “§ 15.2-2025. Removal of snow and ice,” which appears to only grant this authority to “any county in Northern Virginia Planning District 8.”

    Unless the city can find another cite authorizing this ordinance, they might want to hold off on issuing those fines… they may very well end up on the losing side of a lawsuit!

  • Rochester

    If I slip on an uncleared sidewalk who can I sue – the city, the homeownwer, or both?