GLEN ROCK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — When it snows in Glen Rock, New Jersey, homeowners have to get out the shovel or get out the checkbook.

As CBS2’s Elise Finch explained, there is a new ordinance that’s bound to cost some people dearly. They can either clear a path around a fire hydrant, or face a hefty fine.

A new ordinance passed in Glen Rock now requires homeowners to remove snow and ice around hydrants on their property within 24 hours of a snow event or face a $400 fine per occurrence.

“I don’t think you’d ever want to be responsible for an act of negligence that causes a neighbor property damage or, God forbid, life,” Stephane Ohnegian said.

Mayor John Van Keuren said it’s about public safety, not raising money.

“I just put out a call to all residents saying we’re not trying to fine you, we’re trying to get the hydrants cleared,” he said, “We were reminded by the fire department that our hydrants weren’t getting shoveled to the extent that they really needed them shoveled.”

Easy access to the fire hydrant was crucial in battling the blaze at a Maple Avenue home in February.

“When a hydrant is snowed in, when we get on scene we have to stop, locate the hydrant, dig it out. Those few extra minutes can really mean a lot,” Glen Rock Fire Department Chief Thomas Jennings said.

Firefighters said they were able to save lives when they kept a garage fire from spread, in large part because the nearby hydrant was clear of snow and ice.

The hydrant is located on Jay Reilly’s property. He’s been clearing it diligently for 22 years.

“I’m not crazy about the ordinance where I’m the only one who is responsible for a fine or could receive a fine, that’s a little silly. My suggestion is make sure people are aware once things start to get cold remind us and I think as a town we’ll take care of it,” Reilly said.

The mayor said anyone who is truly unable to clear snow from a fire hydrant on their property can call Borough Hall. They will try to send help before imposing a fine.

Homeowners are required to clear the area within a 5-foot radius of a fire hydrant.

So far no fines have been issued.

 

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