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Montgomery County Council member proposes rules for shoveling sidewalks

Wednesday - 3/26/2014, 5:05am  ET

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Hans Riemer sent out an email to his constituents to let them know he's serious about a plan to get the county to do a better job of clearing sidewalks after snowfall. (Thinkstock)
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WASHINGTON -- Montgomery County Council member Hans Riemer sent out an email to his constituents to let them know he's serious about a plan to get the county to do a better job of clearing sidewalks when the snow flies.

He detailed that plan in a recent blog post.

Riemer says the county would consider clearing sidewalks the same way they clear roads. He explains that would include sidewalks along state roads or those near schools -- areas that aren't subject to the county's existing regulations requiring homeowners and businesses to clear their sidewalks after the snow stops.

But Riemer also wants to do more to get residents to comply with the regulations, suggesting a targeted public education campaign.

WTOP asked residents what they thought. Dr. Hercules Pinckney, a former president of Montgomery College, says he thinks it is a good idea.

"Yes! Make it safer for everybody!"

As an academic who knows his way around a grade book, how would he grade businesses and residents on their sidewalk-clearing skills?

"D-minus," he said, laughing.

Matthew Katzman, from Bethesda, says the idea was a good one, but says prioritizing in important.

"I think the roads should be cleared first, but then I think the sidewalks should be cleared too."

Yousef Ghanem wasn't so sure county resources should be used to clear sidewalks.

"I think that would cost too much money, that would be counter-productive," Ghanem says.

Ryan Abjomaa joked that his father made him shovel their sidewalk and that the county ought to boost the fines for those who don't do it.

"There's a Montgomery County law that says we need to shovel anyway, so if we have to do it, why aren't the people being held responsible for not doing it?"

Instead of raising penalties on those who don't shovel, Montgomery County Council member Nancy Floreen created the Golden Shovel Award.

Ghanem was curious about the award.

"I don't want to brag," he says, "but I shovel my neighbors' snow because they're elderly people and we just want to help out in our community."

Have thoughts about shoveling sidewalks? Riemer wants you to tweet about it using the hashtag #MoCoSnow.

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WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

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