A renewed focus on foot traffic in the midst of winter weather has led the municipal governments of Chapel Hill and Carrboro to augment their policies on clearing sidewalk obstructions.

These policies currently state that occupants of commercial and multi-family buildings are obligated to maintain the sidewalks that border their properties.

The Carrboro Town Code requires such occupants to “clear snow, ice, or other [obstructions]” from sidewalks in their vicinity “at the earliest possible time and as soon as the weather permits.”

Property owners and lessees are also mandated by the Chapel Hill Code of Ordinances to “pave [sidewalks on their land] at their own expense” and keep them in “good, passable condition.”

In an effort to take some of the work out of keeping sidewalks clear during colder months, the mayor of Carrboro, Lydia Lavelle, noted that her town invested in a compact snow plow.

“We have so many folks that walk around,” explained Lavelle. “It may be kind of a learning process as we go along.”

The Chapel Hill Public Works Department has also initiated targeted sidewalk clearing for portions of Franklin, Columbia and Rosemary streets as well as a portion of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Citing town codes, Lavelle mentioned that efforts made by the municipal government to clear sidewalks are not always quick due to property ownership considerations.

A bulletin from the Chapel Hill municipal government also explains that the town’s “limited resources are concentrated on clearing roadways first” so that emergency services calls may be answered.