Clearing our Sidewalks
Dec. 8, 2014: A majority of those attending tonight’s Board of Trustees meeting agreed that it’s about time to do something about clearing the sidewalks in the neighborhood when it snows. It’s a safety issue, especially for our kids. It’s a quality of life issue, and could well impact home prices if prospective buyers visit our neighborhood when half the sidewalks are piled high with snow, and people have to walk on the street. And it seems the winters have been getting worse lately as far as ice and snow are concerned.
Technically, under New Jersey law, the responsibility belongs to the individual homeowner, and many towns require homeowners to shovel within 24-72 hours, with significant fines for non-compliance. Bernards Township has no ordinance, however, so it would up to the Association to require it, and enforce it.
This is not something we consider viable, when we think about policing it, and fining people — and still not getting the sidewalks cleared. But we know that a majority of residents would prefer to have the sidewalks cleared of snow and ice whenever it’s needed. And certainly more than half of Liberty Ridge homeowners with sidewalks (which we estimate to be about 40, out of 161 homes) do shovel after each storm.
But the social as well as the financial cost of going after those who don’t shovel (especially if there’s a good reason for it, such as not being physically capable of doing it) is greater than the cost of getting a crew out a few times each winter, which incidentally employs some people and provides the community with a beneficial service. In addition, some parts of the Offering Statement appear to suggest that the Association has a responsibility to “administer, operate, and maintain” the sidewalks as if they were common property (this is something we’re consulting the attorney about).
So the question comes down to who should pay, the individual homeowners with the sidewalks or the community as a whole. After much discussion, it was generally agreed that the neighborhood as a whole benefits; that the homeowners who do not live on the cul-de-sacs share in cost of clearing them; and that spread over all of the homeowners the amount is likely to be quite small (and could be partly offset by savings from going paperless, which is our next objective).
Consequently we’re actively soliciting quotes for the sidewalk shoveling, and working to get the word out to the residents. Comments of course are welcome.
Here’s the December Board Meeting Announcement, which provided the context for the discussion and laid out the alternatives: LRNA – Dec Meeting Announcement.