Hearings held for snow removal violations in Tyrone Borough

The snow woes of early February have become a legal matter for more than four dozen Tyrone Borough citizens.
Numerous residents and business owners were cited this winter by the borough for violations of the borough’s sidewalk snow removal ordinance.
District Justice Fred Miller heard a number of cases last week at his office in Snyder Township. Only one person was found guilty of the charges according to information from the borough’s top code official, Thomas Lang.
“Robert Detwiler was found guilty, three other people were found not guilty. They were Mardell Cooper, Harry Martz and Yolanda Anders,” said Lang. “I understand Cooper was found not guilty because she claimed the borough road crews had pushed snow up onto her sidewalk even though this allegedly occurred many days after the February 6-7 snow event.
“First, I want to say I think Fred Miller is the best magistrate in Blair County, but I believe his thinking was we did not give these people enough time to clear their walks,” said Lang. “However, we gave residents more than 48 hours before we started issuing violations and the ordinance only requires 24 hours,” Lang said.
“Also, we received complaints we were singling out older residents and people with handicaps,” said Lang. “I have no idea how old someone is when I write up these violations. We go by the tax records and issue citations to the property owner listed on the records.
“We acted on this because the borough received numerous complaints from parents who said their children had to walk in the streets because of the snow on the sidewalks,” said Lang. “We also received phone calls from the school district about the same safety issue.
“The borough is not trying to take money from old people as some people indicated,” said Lang.
In addition to the four decisions handed down by the district justice last week, Miller confirmed another case was continued and five more cases are scheduled to be heard next week. Miller also confirmed 28 people agreed to pay their fines and several other cases are still being processed by his office.
When asked for his reasoning for the decisions he made on last week’s cases, Miller declined to comment on individual cases as is his custom. Miller noted he will sometimes offer such reasoning during actual courtroom proceedings.
Lang stated the borough plans to continue enforcing the ordinance in the event of future snow events and wanted to stress borough residents should be aware of it.
At a Tyrone Borough council meeting in the first week of March, Lang made note of Ordinance 1075 concerning snow and ice removal from sidewalks in his monthly written report.
He noted a large number of residents had complained about the lack of snow removal from sidewalks in February. Tyrone had not enforced the ordinance until the second week of February despite numerous large snowfalls earlier in the winter season.
The borough did place several advertisements in The Daily Herald on Feb. 7, 11, 14 and 18 which reminded residents of the requirement to clear snow from sidewalks within 24 hours of the cessation of any snowfall or citations would be issued.
On February 9, the borough began issuing citations regarding the ordinance and continued to do so for more than a week and a half from that date.
The fine for such violations is $25 and the borough has previously indicated property owners can be fined for each day the situation is not corrected.
Of the defendants who received decisions on their cases last week, The Daily Herald was only able to reach Harry Martz Sr., who confirmed he was one of the residents involved in the proceedings but refused additional comment. The other residents were either not available at press time or were not listed in the Tyrone telephone directory.