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Town considering code revisions related to snow removal

The Riverhead Town Board is expected to set two public hearings on Wednesday related to code revisions born out of the early January snowstorm.

Both public hearings, if approved Wednesday, would be held on Tuesday, March 20.

During the last storm Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson and Riverhead Town Police Chief David Hegermiller had to use “a lot of manpower to get homeowners and businesses to remove their vehicles because it was impeding the ability to actually clear the roadways,” deputy town attorney Anne Marie Prudenti said Thursday at the board’s work session.

As a result of that, they discussed with Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith removing the 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. time period the current code says vehicles should not be parked on any highway within the town during a snow or winter emergency.

“Because we don’t know when the heaviest snow is going to fall,” Ms. Prudenti said.

In addition, there are certain roads within town, such as Reeves Avenue, that are routinely prone to severe icing and snow drifting during winter storms, she said. Despite the fact that a local snow emergency was declared, vehicles were continuing to try to travel down those roads and ended having to be pulled to safety by town emergency crews. Another amendment proposes to recognize that the supervisor, after a snow or winter storm emergency has been declared, has the ability to close roadways.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio thanked Ms. Jens-Smith, who declared a snow emergency a few days after being sworn in, for meeting with the highway superintendent and police chief to put forth a policy for future snowstorms.

Changes are also proposed on sidewalk snow removal from residential and commercial premises, based on recommendations from code enforcement, Ms. Prudenti said.

The proposed revisions put a greater onus on commercial premises to keep sidewalks clean immediately after snowfall Ms. Prudenti said.

Meanwhile, residents would be required to clear snow within 24 hours after snowfall stops. The reason behind that was to prevent penalizing elderly residents in town, giving them more of a window to clear snow instead of having to go out during a storm to stay in compliance.

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