EAST MANCHESTER TWP., Pa. - Township residents in at least three different neighborhoods are accusing township officials of excessive enforcement of snow removal rules in their community.
Dozens of homeowners reportedly received $140 citations ($50 fine plus $90 in court costs) in the mail in the last week for not clearing their sidewalks in a timely fashion after a snowstorm on January 16. Data from the National Weather Service shows the area received a trace amount of snowfall on that day at the York Airport, which is the closest weather observation station.
"Didn't think much of it, my wife was out-of-town working and we have two little kids under 3, and so I didn't really have an opportunity to get out and shovel at that time, and honestly the way it was melting, I didn't think I needed to get out," said Tim Lawver, one of the people whose home was cited.
In the case of Angela Tsoukalos-Lewis and her husband, they both received citations. However, snow removal experts in the area have said in those cases, county judges will often dismiss one of those in court. It's done so that one homeowner cannot blame another who has not been cited for improper snow removal and earn a dismissal, they said.
"It was such an insignificant amount of snow that it just didn't make sense," Tsoukalos-Lewis said. "I could see if it was several inches or feet even, but it was just not that much snow."
Township officials declined comment to FOX43 Thursday, so it's unclear exactly how many people were fined.
Some homeowners say they have lived in their homes for years and had never received warnings about the snow removal ordinance.
"It just feels like the township is railroading us," said homeowner John Kessler. "You didn't even get a warning, and there's wording now in the code that there's no warning required, and it's got to be done within 24 hours, which I can understand it if's a [big] snow, but less than an inch? Come on."
Homeowners say they are coordinating their response together.
"We just had some snow the other day, and I know that neighbors have been kind of helping each other out, shoveling for each other, kind of going extended up to their sidewalks," Tsoukalos-Lewis said.
Residents are expecting to take their complaints to township supervisors on Tuesday.