The recent snow storm created a nightmare for many community associations in New Jersey. The unusual amount of snow and high winds interfered with snow removal efforts and created both physical and financial burdens. It is therefore timely to discuss a law that became operative on January 1st of this year, which gives municipalities the authority to require adjacent property owners to clear snow from all fire hydrants “within 24 hours of snow coverage.” The law, N.J.S.A. 40:65-12.1, also authorizes municipalities to require the installation of a locator pole on each hydrant.
The Division of Fire Safety was directed to adopt implementation rules, including specifications and requirements for the hydrant locator poles. If a responsible party fails to comply, the municipality may provide the service and charge $75 per hydrant. “Snow coverage” is defined as the initial complete coverage of the fire hydrant as the result of “natural precipitation.”
Obviously, not all snowfalls result in buried fire hydrants, but as evidenced by recent experience, it will happen from time to time. It is expected that community associations will be considered “adjacent property owners.” Many associations already mark their hydrants with poles so that they can be located for snow clearing purposes. Quite apart from the new law, community safety dictates that associations insure that hydrants can be accessed in the event of a fire. Therefore, this law is not likely to have a dramatic effect on associations, most of which are already compliant. Nevertheless it would be prudent to check with your municipality to see if this new law has been implemented by ordinance.
To review the language of N.J.S.A. 40:65-12.1, click here.
For more information on this law or any other issue concerning your community association, please contact one of our Community Associations attorneys. For breaking news or updates on new blog posts, follow us on Twitter at: @njcondolaw.