Bath council expected to enact ice removal rule

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BATH — The City Council will vote a second and final time Feb. 3 on an ice removal rule for buildings in the city’s business district.

The panel unanimously granted first passage Jan. 6 to requiring owners or occupants of buildings or vacant lots bordering any sidewalk in the downtown General Business Zone to remove icicles that hang over a sidewalk or other public way.

If the issue is unresolved 24 hours after notification, the city will hire someone to remove the icicles. The owner will be billed for removal costs, plus an additional 10 percent and a $250 fine, Code Enforcement Officer Scott Davis said in an interview Jan. 13.

“If they don’t pay us, we’ll put a lien on the property,” he added.

The rule amends a snow removal ordinance, dating from 1920, that calls for downtown owners or occupants to clear sidewalks in front of their properties. The sidewalks must be cleared, and sand or salt laid down, within four hours of a storm’s end during the day Monday through Saturday, or by 10 a.m. the next day if a storm ends at night. The rule does not apply on Sundays.

The amendment “came out because we’ve had problems with some of the buildings on Front Street … developing large icicles, and the owners not removing them as directed, so we ended up doing it with our fire truck,” Davis said.

Not only is it a task for which the Fire Department is not trained, and for which its equipment is not designed, he said, but it can be costly. The expense for the department to remove icicles at one Front Street building last February was more than $271.

“We want to privatize the responsibility,” Davis said.

Since owners or occupants would bear the responsibility, it will be up to those parties to decide who will be tasked with the snow and icicle removals, he said, “as long as someone does it.”

Davis recommends that people who have to remove ice should call a tree service, or someone with a bucket truck, who is trained and equipped for the work.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

The Bath City Council is due next month to vote a second and final time on an ice removal rule for buildings in the city’s business district.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.