Snow Removal During These Unprecedented Storms

As snow is falling again, the cluster HOA Board recognizes that this has been an unprecedented weather event that has tried the patience of us all. We have seen an incredible efforts put in by neighbors helping neighbors to remove snow and make life a bit more bearable.

As we get ready to dig out from the latest round of snowfall we also understand that there have been a number of questions and frustrations related to snow removal from the storms. To answer some of the issues, please see below.

Why do the plows have to dump snow behind my vehicle?

Snow plows are only able to push snow – and even then they can only push it until it reaches a sizable barrier (as in massive snow banks). Additionally, as they push some of the snow “falls off” the edge of the blade. The drivers have the blades positioned to divert the maximum amount of snow with each push and push it to a targeted location where they can stop. This means some snow and ice is going to fall off to the side the blade.

Also please keep in mind that the plows come through to open up travel lanes so there is at least one passable lane through the neighborhood. They are not removing all of the snow from the entire parking lot.

Why aren’t the plows coming through more frequently?

This storm is stretching the resources of all of our vendors to the max. In addition to taking longer to clear the snow in the neighborhoods they serve, they are also dealing with breaking equipment. We are monitoring and working to secure additional resources where available but sometimes it just takes a while for the plows to get to our neighborhood.

Why can’t we just hire someone to remove the snow completely?

Some communities budget for this on an annual basis and allocate up to $20,000 for this expense which would have to be absorbed by our annual operating budget (and thus would increase each home’s fees). Because we do not typically see snows like we have seen lately, we budget for plowing only.

I saw a front end loader moving snow, how come they didn’t removing more snow?

The HOA Boarddid make a decision to hire a front end loader to address the worst areas of our neighborhood. These were areas blocked by downed trees, with limited street access and with limited locations to move snow. Because of the high cost of the front end loader ($200 per hour of operation plus transportation costs) we made a triage decision to treat only the worst areas in the neighborhood.

If it is necessary, the board will review neighborhood conditions and will bring the front end loader back in. However, because of the unbudgeted costs for this service our preference will be to minimize the work that is done and limit effort to the areas that need it the most.

There are a number of downed trees and trees leaning toward my home. What are you going to do about them?

We are aware of the downed trees and ones that are dangerously close to homes. Thrive, our tree service vendor, had been contacted on Sunday February 7th and is scheduled to assess the options and costs. We have done our best to address the trees that were blocking traffic through the neighborhood. After the storm is over, we will be working with our vendor (Thrive) to remove the debris, address any damaged trees, and review trees that are close to personal property. Unfortunately, this work can’t be done until the storms are over and crews can safely get to the affected trees.

We will make an announcement when this is happening so you can take care of any volume pricing for work that you need to have done on your property.

What is this going to do to our cluster’s operating budget?

Our 2009 budget was over on snow removal following the storms in December and some of the costs from the last storm will be incurred in 2010 based on when costs come in. Now with these storms we will have used up our entire snow removal budget – even before we incur the additional costs of front end loaders and tree repair. The board will discuss this subject at future meetings and make a decision on how to handle it then.

What can I do to help?

Remember, that it is the responsibility of each owner to clear the sidewalk in front of their property. Additionally, it is your responsibility to dig out your own car. However, please do not just throw any snow out into the roadway as when the plows come through it will not only make it harder for them to get through but it will push the snow back against your car.

Likewise, removing snow from any common areas means that there is less that we need to pay vendors to do. Every snow shovel helps and we appreciate the efforts of everyone to make the community passable.

As we said earlier, we have seen a tremendous amount of neighborly effort as everyone pitches in. As the old saying goes, “many hands make light work” and when neighbors collaborate with a plan the shoveling is easier and goes faster.

Thanks to everyone for their patience during these extraordinary storms. Please know that we are doing everything in our power to maintain our neighborhood and at the same time make fiscally responsible decisions for the community’s assets and finances.

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