RUMFORD — Snowplowing and shoveling issues came before selectmen Thursday night after a resident complained of problems he’s having with a business.
During the citizens’ requests segment, Don Boucher of 65 Essex Ave. sought the board’s help to curb what he called the illegal plowing practices of Ralph’s Store on Cumberland Street.
Boucher said Rumford has laws preventing property and business owners from plowing or shoveling snow onto another’s property or in the roadway and sidewalks.
He said police are not enforcing the law and suggested that the board have police begin doing so, starting with his issues. Boucher also said he wants a larger fine on businesses found guilty of breaking the law by plowing snow onto a neighbor’s property.
He said he confronted the person who was plowing for Ralph’s Store and was assaulted.
Board Chairman Greg Buccina asked Town Manager Carlo Puiia to have police Chief Stacy Carter address Boucher’s complaints.
Buccina urged residents and business owners to think of their neighbors when removing snow from yards and business lots.
Selectman Jolene Lovejoy continued the discussion.
She said she drove around town earlier Thursday to familiarize herself with areas where people are violating the town’s snow ordinance and saw plenty of evidence.
She said people are plowing so much snow onto sidewalks that the town’s lone sidewalk plow cannot handle it, forcing people to walk on the streets in traffic.
“You’re doing yourself and your neighbor a disservice every time you do this and to all of us who are not going to want to use the sidewalks when we need to use them, so shame on you if you’re somebody that’s doing it,” she said.
Puiia also took issue with the matter.
“We had two nights of storms, and then on that third night, we had that big rainstorm, if you remember,” he said. “And if anybody had it in their driveway and didn’t clean it up, you know what happens — it turns to ice.
“And much like Mrs. Lovejoy referred to, these piles of snow became ice mountains, so the sidewalk plow cannot get through,” Puiia said.
He said Rumford has one sidewalk plow and miles of sidewalks, “so your area might not immediately be cleaned. They’re doing the best they can.”
Starting at midnight during the first of next week, the town crew will start catching up with snow removal, Puiia said.
During Christmas and New Year’s vacations, more storms dumped snow and rain on Rumford, complicating town plowing and snow removal, he said.
“These men were working late hours and long hours during the holidays and they deserve a break so they can remain alert, so we wanted them to have a holiday,” Puiia said.
“We’re doing the best we can. It’s never going to be perfect. This is a perennial problem. We all seem to forget that between April and the following December how much snow we get.”
He said the last three years of light snowfall were exceptions.
“With snow removal, you’re not supposed to block any sidewalks or deposit any snow in the road,” Puiia said.
“Now the town has an ordinance, but they’ve always been flexible, meaning that they allowed snow to be deposited on the edge of the road, provided it does not protrude into the passing lane or into the travel lane or the sidewalk or another’s land.
“If we try to revert back to a ‘No Tolerance’ policy, that means that for any citizen or any business, we will be putting a financial burden on them to have them haul snow somewhere to be deposited.”
He said he doesn’t believe there is any perfect solution, but wants to prevent “snow rage” incidents.
“We’ve already seen it last week when two people were fatally wounded,” Puiia said.
He was referring to the killings on Dec. 29 of Biddeford tenants Derrick Thompson, 19, and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Alivia Welch, in a dispute with their landlord over snow removal and parking.
“People have to learn to work with one another with snow removal,” Puiia said.
He said snow removal and plowing priorities will again be discussed with Public Works Superintendent Andy Russell at the board’s next meeting.