Clear Duty For City Residents

Onus On Denizens To Shovel Sidewalks Following Snowfall

Posted: January 25, 2013

Kathleen Kraft, co-owner of Laughing Dog T-Shirts and Gifts on Main Street in Harrisonburg, sweeps away the salt that melted snow from the sidewalk in front of her store on Thursday. (Photos by Nikki Fox / DN-R)
Dennis Lambert, employee of the City of Harrisonburg, removes snow from the sidewalks bordering Central Avenue, next to Keister Elementary School, on Thursday.

HARRISONBURG — No matter how much snow a storm dumps on the city, Harrisonburg code says you have to clear the sidewalk in front of your home or business, or risk paying a fine.


City officials want to remind residents and business owners that they are responsible for shoveling their sidewalks by either three hours after snowfall ceases or, if snow stops overnight, by 10 a.m. the following day.


For unoccupied or vacant buildings, the owner is responsible for clearing sidewalks. And in the cases of buildings with multiple tenants, the owner must communicate with those tenants to plan for snow removal.


The ordinance exists for the safety of pedestrians, particularly children, the elderly and anyone with a physical disability.


City spokeswoman Mary-Hope Vass said Harrisonburg officials receive numerous complaints of uncleared sidewalks after each snowfall. The city reviews situations on a complaint-driven basis, she said, and the person responsible for shoveling snow usually complies with the code after he or she is notified of the rule.


Violators, though, can be fined for the cost the city incurs for snow removal, if it clears the path.


Otherwise, the city is responsible only for clearing roads and sidewalks on Harrisonburg-owned property, Vass said.


The city also advises residents with off-street parking available to use that space, making it easier for trucks to plow roads.


Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or

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