Bath council: Ice isn't nice on downtown buildings

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved an ice removal rule for buildings in the city’s business district.

The ordinance requires owners or tenants of property that border any sidewalk in the downtown General Business Zone to remove icicles that hang over a sidewalk or other public way.

If a situation remains unresolved 24 hours after notification, the city will hire someone to remove the icicles and the owner will be billed for removal costs plus 10 percent and a $250 fine, according to Code Enforcement Officer Scott Davis. If the city is not repaid, a lien will be placed on the property.

The rule amends a 1920 snow removal ordinance that requires downtown owners or occupants to clear sidewalks in front of their properties. The sidewalks have to be cleared, and sand or salt applied, within four hours of the end of a storm during the day Monday through Saturday, or by 10 a.m. the following day if a storm ends at night. The rule does not apply on Sundays.

The amendment is the result of problems the city has had with some downtown buildings developing large icicles that owners have not removed. As a result, the city removes them with the aid of a fire truck and firefighters, Davis said.

The expense for the Fire Department to remove icicles at 100 Front St. last February, for example, was more than $271, he said.

“We really have never had a mechanism to capture that cost,” Davis told the council Wednesday, adding that the amended ordinance will “force the hazard to be abated, and to recover the cost” if the city has to do the work.

Councilor James Omo pointed out that the new rule applies only to the downtown commercial district.

“If you’re at home and you have icicles on your roof, and they’re not a danger to anybody, we’re not going to come out with a fire truck and remove them and send you a bill,” he said.

Davis said property owners will receive notice of the new policy.

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

The Bath City Council voted a second and final time Wednesday 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.