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Snow removal ordinances rarely enforced in Southwest Virginia

Snow removal ordinances rarely enforced in Southwest Virginia (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

(WSLS 10) - The snow is melting across Southwest Virginia, but you would never know it looking at some sidewalks.

"It's dangerous, very dangerous," said Robert Donahue, who lives in Vinton and walks to work every day.

Even though the snow stopped falling Thursday morning, Donahue is dealing with countless sidewalks that are covered and in some cases haven't been touched.

"Everything is clogged up," he said. "I want to walk here or walk there and I thought I have to walk in the middle of the street, get out and then get back on and keeping going."

Most communities in Southwest Virginia have an ordinance requiring homeowners to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks within a reasonable amount of time.

In Vinton, that means eight hours after daylight of the last snowfall.

In Roanoke, it's 24 hours later.

Bedford lists it as six hours after the last snow fall and Lynchburg has it at four. If it happens overnight then the homeowner has until noon the next day.

Despite the ordinances in place, all four communities combined have written zero citations this winter for sidewalks that haven't been cleared.

WSLS 10 reached out to find out way.

We got a variety of answers, including that the ordinance is meant to encourage homeowners not punish them.

Another community told us it's about education and not punishment.

Also, we were told that it's rare for snow in Southwest Virginia to stay on the ground without melting for long periods of time, therefore enforcement of the ordinance is rarely needed.

It's an explanation that may be a relief to some homeowners, but is frustrating for walkers like Donahue.

"I do the best I can to get where I've got to be."