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Town amends rule for snow emergencies

Plows clear snow and slush as they travel

Plows clear snow and slush as they travel on Route 58 in Riverhead on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Credit: Randee Daddona

After four years of trying to figure out how to get cars off town roads before a snowstorm, the Riverhead Town board has come up with a compromise that would let the supervisor or a designee declare a snow emergency before a storm arrives and would ban parking on any town road from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

A public hearing on the plan has been set for the next town board meeting at 2 p.m. March 4. “Once we pass this code, spring will come and we won’t have to worry about it,” Supervisor Sean Walter joked.

But, he quickly added, getting cars off the road is no joke. “I used to plow with a friend. Having cars on the road makes it a lot tougher,” Walter said.

The reason it took four years to come up with a way to let the police chief or the highway superintendent declare an emergency is that state law gives only the town supervisor that power, but the town said that power can be designated.

Under the new proposal, the town would post information about snow closures on the town website and notify at least one local radio station. Cars left on the road would be towed by the police department and the owners would have to pay the cost of towing and storage, and could be fined up to $250.

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