Darby Township approves fines for snow spot saving

UPDATE, 8:10 p.m.: The ordinance passed unanimously tonight in Darby Township, meaning residents now face the threat of a fine from police if they're caught saving a shoveled-out parking spot or throwing snow into the roadway.

The fine approved in the ordinance will range from $300 to $1,000, Darby Township Police Chief Robert Thompson said.

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Trying to save a shoveled-out parking spot using an item you only have a moderate attachment to - like a garbage can or a chair - could cost you $300 in Darby Township if an ordinance passes at the township commissioner's meeting tonight.

Township manager John Ryan said the township isn't making a law, it's just going to start enforcing one already in the state motor vehicle code: obstructing highways. He said that during 2010's blizzard, the board felt that so many spaces were being saved that the board felt something had to be done.

A second part of the ordinance would fine people caught shoveling snow back into a road that has been plowed, Ryan said.

"We had a big problem with that," he said. "We'd plow the streets and then we'd get calls that the streets weren't plowed. We finally realized people were throwing snow back in the streets and we're wasting our time plowing."

The vote comes on a day when the township received about five inches of snow, but all of the roads remain "plowed and open" so residents should not have a problem getting to the meeting, Ryan said.

Saving the space you spent hours shoveling is somewhat of a tradition in the Philadelphia region, but Ryan said the feedback he's received so far has been positive.

I live in Delaware County, and when I told a friend what I do to save a space she called it "The Sympathy Method." I take a piece of cardboard and write a heartfelt message in red or black marker. The last one read: "I spent the morning shoveling out this spot. If you could leave it open I would appreciate it. Thank You!"

It's always worked ... but could my nice sign earn me a fine? I'll find out tonight.

Update: Police Chief Robert Thompson said my "Sympathy Method" would probably not fall under the ordinance or be worthy of a fine: "If a person could still get in there, it's a reasonable approach," he said.

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