Montgomery Co. businesses that delay snow removal could see fine increase

WASHINGTON — The Montgomery County Council is considering a bill that would significantly boost the fine for businesses who fail to clear their walkways when the snow starts to stick.

Under the bill sponsored by council member Hans Riemer, the current $50 fine could increase to $500 for commercial properties where snow isn’t cleared from sidewalks 24 hours after the snow has fallen.

The bill is co-sponsored by council member Roger Berliner, and it was the topic of a council hearing Tuesday.

Two speakers at the hearing — Darrel Drobnich, with the county’s Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Safety Committee, and Seth Morgan, with the Commission on People with Disabilities — spoke in support of the bill.

But one speaker, Bethesda resident Richard Hoye, questioned whether the bill was needed, saying, “I see no evidence from my experience removing snow from a quarter-mile stretch of highway that shows me that the commercial property owners are at all the issue here.”

He explained that according to data from county code enforcement, 700 residents had been cited for failing to clear their sidewalks, while 150 businesses where cited for the same infraction.

Hoye is a retired firefighter known for his herculean efforts to clear the sidewalk along a stretch of Old Georgetown Road. He’s invested $40,000 of his own money in a snowblower — including a $15,000 attachment imported from Switzerland — that he uses to clear sidewalks in his Bethesda neighborhood each year.

At the hearing, Council President Nancy Floreen noted Hoye’s contributions to his neighborhood. “I think we’ve given you an award just about every year for that,” she said.

Hoye corrected her, saying, “Every other year.”

Floreen gives out Golden Shovel Awards each year to residents who go above and beyond to help neighbors dig out from snowstorms.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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