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  1. #1
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    Default City Hired Snow Plow Dumps Only on My Property

    My question involves personal property located in the State of: MASS

    I live on a private way and the snow plows (DPW trucks and private trucks) the city uses to plow our street puts 90% of the neighborhood snow onto our property, damages our lawn and curb, and creates a pile of snow that is 8+ feet tall and when it melts floods our basement. There are plenty of other propertys in the neighborhood to spread the wealth a little, but we get it all. We are happy to have some snow if others get it too. But we get it all and they get none. We have tried to work with DPW, the plows, the City, to spread the snow around but it doesnt work--the plows do what they want to do. Im sure its easier for the plows to dump on our property but its a huge inconvenience to us. Since we are on a private way, do we have the right to tell the City they are not to dump on our property? Do we have the right to tell the City not to plow us and we will hire a private plow to handle our area?

    Also--on a private way, how much of the sidewalk, curb, street belongs to us? I have heard different things about what is our property/responsibility beyond the property lines.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: City Hired Snow Plow Dumps Only on My Property

    If you and the other owners on the right-of-way don't want the city to plow on the basis that it's a private right-of-way, you and the other owners can pitch that to the city.

    You will have to check a survey or figure out from the legal description of your property to determine what portion of the land under the right-of-way you own.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: City Hired Snow Plow Dumps Only on My Property

    Quote Quoting boston247
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    Since we are on a private way, do we have the right to tell the City they are not to dump on our property? .
    Unless there is some specific ordinance requiring you to accept the snow or some prior agreement or this is a legally acceptable use of the road ROW and they are only dumping on the ROW, you have every right to refuse the snow...period.

    What they are doing now is considered to be a trespass (barring the caveats previously mentioned).

    What you might consider is a suit to recover your damages.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: City Hired Snow Plow Dumps Only on My Property

    Okay, I'll bite. Where can I find a statute or court ruling holding that a city can't plow snow if the snow ends up on private property afterward, unless that's explicitly authorized in the grant of an easement? What do you propose cities throughout the snowy areas of this country should do with the snow in lieu of plowing it, such that this type of issue never arises?

    Also, what's the theory to circumvent governmental immunity?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: City Hired Snow Plow Dumps Only on My Property

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
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    Okay, I'll bite. Where can I find a statute or court ruling holding that a city can't plow snow if the snow ends up on private property afterward, unless that's explicitly authorized in the grant of an easement? What do you propose cities throughout the snowy areas of this country should do with the snow in lieu of plowing it, such that this type of issue never arises?

    Also, what's the theory to circumvent governmental immunity?
    well, placing anything on MY property is trespassing unless I give authority to place the items on my property.

    and, governmental immunity only extends so far. This is apparently an intentional act that, at best, would be construed as willful negligence causing damage to private property. I do not believe governmental immunity would protect. If there is salt used in the area, it will not only kill the grass but it will poison the soil for some time to come. The only thing you would be able to grow is asparagus.



    What do you propose cities throughout the snowy areas of this country should do with the snow in lieu of plowing it, such that this type of issue never arises?
    It happens every year in many places all over snow country. In my immediate area, the snow is taken out of the city and dumped on county property. I remember reading about a spot in New York that requested special permission from the EPA to be allowed to dump the snow in the river, and yes, before you ask, EPA or DNR permission is required to dump snow cleared from roads in the river in many areas. There can be a great deal of salt in the snow that can be harmful to marine life.


    puts 90% of the neighborhood snow onto our property, damages our lawn and curb, and creates a pile of snow that is 8+ feet tall and when it melts floods our basement
    . this is not merely the snowplow running down the road blasting slush all over everything. It is obvious this lot is being used for a disposal area for the accumulated snow from the area depriving the OP from the use of his lot.


    and of course you aren't going to find an ordinance preventing such action. Since when does a municipality make laws preventing them from taking an action?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: City Hired Snow Plow Dumps Only on My Property

    All over the country, snow is plowed leaving berms and ridges on private property. If you think that snow is hauled away in trucks throughout the nation... aren't you from a state with snowy winters? Many cities can barely afford to run plows. Detroit alone has Detroit has 1884 miles of residential streets. You think it hauls that snow away?

    As for your gut feeling that governmental immunity doesn't apply, well, that and a buck will get you a cup of coffee. Can you produce even one case, from anywhere in the nation, where a municipality was held liable for any form of actionable tort by plowing snow from the street onto somebody's land?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: City Hired Snow Plow Dumps Only on My Property

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
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    All over the country, snow is plowed leaving berms and ridges on private property. If you think that snow is hauled away in trucks throughout the nation... aren't you from a state with snowy winters? Many cities can barely afford to run plows. Detroit alone has Detroit has 1884 miles of residential streets. You think it hauls that snow away?

    As for your gut feeling that governmental immunity doesn't apply, well, that and a buck will get you a cup of coffee. Can you produce even one case, from anywhere in the nation, where a municipality was held liable for any form of actionable tort by plowing snow from the street onto somebody's land?
    we aren't talking about simple plowing. We are speaking of a dumping grounds. and yes, many municipalities do haul the snow away. Towards the end of winter, if it has been a heavy snowfall, pushing it around on the streets just doesn;t work anymore so it must be hauled away in trucks.

    especially in a city where there is no place to push the snow, they have to haul it away. You think it just evaporates once they push it around for awhile? In a city, there are often no lots, either municipal or private that could even allow the snow to be placed there. They have to do something with it.

    and to court cases; I have not experienced any municipality dumb enough to put snow on a private property. In the 6 cities within 30 miles of me, they all push it around until there is no more room to push it around. Then, they get out the front end loaders and dump trucks and haul it away.

    I do know that in 1978 when we experienced enough snow to close the entire area for at least 3 days (36 inches in about 2 days time) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Blizzard_of_1978 , one loader driver was shot at for placing snow on private property and when one placed snow on my property, a friendly reminder of what happened the last time a loader driver did that (and not in a threatening way) was all that was required for him to scoop it back up and move it.

    Nobody was in any mood to have 10 feet of snow piled in their yard and it did not happen without permission. I did have an empty lot next door they were free to use and did after our discussion.


    we actually had tracked personnel carriers on the roads after a couple days as that was the only thing that could get through. They helicoptered people into stores so they could open them and sell whatever foodstuffs they had on the shelves.

    You want snow? Here is snow:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_qH8n9B92oe...izzardof78.jpg

    I do know what snowfall is and I do see how it is handled. It is not by putting it on a persons yard and damaging their property.

    so, rather than me trying to find cases where municipalities were successfully sued, how about you finding a few where the suit was dismissed because of governmental immunity.

    here is as close as I can find for immediate support. It is a land use ordinance that actually requires snow dumping areas to be zoned for such:

    http://www.aspenpitkin.com/Portals/0...aff%20Memo.pdf

    go down to page 10 and you will see why nobody should ever be forced to allow snow dumping on their property. It can cause great harm to many aspects of the natural land and water table.

    and here is a bulletin from a city addressing their snow dumping:

    http://www.redorbit.com/news/science...sue/index.html

  8. #8
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    Default Re: City Hired Snow Plow Dumps Only on My Property

    The poster seems to claim is is a literal DUMPING, not snow from a plow blocking a driveway or such! The latter has been litigated and it is a necessary element of plowing for the benefit of all.


    The former would be a questionable action under the Takings clause of both federal and state, IMO.

    Snow plowing is a governmental function, not a proprietary one, so immunity is there, but not in this case I would think.

    Oh, to edit, I see it is a hired truck, subcontractor, not a city truck, so would sovereign immunity apply?? Hmm!!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: City Hired Snow Plow Dumps Only on My Property

    It sounds to me that they're talking about the snow being pushed by thw plow down the street, with their house being at the end of the street, then pushing the snow off of the road onto the yard. The place where snow is left by a plow sounds like something that happens at the discretion of the plow operator, making it the very type of decision to which governmental immunity does apply. But whether we call it "dumping" or something else, do you have any case law or other legal authority? Because, as you know, "That's not fair" doesn't carry the day in court. I hope you don't act like jk and, unable to back up your words, attempt to reverse the burden of proof. This is you guys' assertion.

    The sovereign immunity to a private contractor angle, on the other hand, is interesting. Clearly there are contexts where government immunity carries over to private contractors (even though, in my opinion, that rarely if ever should happen).

  10. #10
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    Default Re: City Hired Snow Plow Dumps Only on My Property

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
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    I hope you don't act like jk and, unable to back up your words, attempt to reverse the burden of proof. This is you guys' assertion.
    I asserted nothing, as I put IMO behind it. You can't back up your claim that they are not liable, no more than I can they are. If it has never been litigated, and would produce a case of 1st impression, then it will mean NEW law.

    The sovereign immunity to a private contractor angle, on the other hand, is interesting. Clearly there are contexts where government immunity carries over to private contractors (even though, in my opinion, that rarely if ever should happen).
    I put IMO above, and you asked me to produce case law. You produce some here since you also put IMO!

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