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We should all pitch in and pick up

By Staff | Aug 14, 2015

Shepherdstown is beautiful and unique in so many ways. Walking through the alleyways or sitting outside at any of the restaurants, one can appreciate the beauty of flowers, stonework and architecture. Unfortunately, however, you may also notice cigarette butts, dog poo and uneven sidewalks that are difficult to navigate, at times.

The residents and visitors to Shepherdstown deserve to be in a place that puts its best foot forward.

Mayor Auxer addressed this issue at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, suggesting that residents and business owners all lend a helping hand.

“Everyone loves Shepherdstown,” Auxer said, “so let’s love Shepherdstown enough by cleaning up after ourselves.”

One of the main areas of concern that was mentioned at the meeting, was that the town is losing sidewalks to grass and weeds, and the obstruction of walkways. The mayor suggested residents should avoid blowing grass onto the sidewalks when mowing, and also to pull weeds and grass from the curb and sidewalk area in front of their houses.

Town ordinances are in place to keep the walkways and alleyways free from obstructions:

Section 11 -503 Placement of obstructions restricted. Revised October 1996

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to obstruct any street, alley, sidewalk or public

place in the town by placing anything thereon or therein that will interfere with travel or

the free use thereof for the purpose for which they are intended,

(b) For purposes of this section, an obstruction that will interfere with travel or free use

of a sidewalk shall mean any object of a permanent or temporary nature placed on a


(1)that constricts free passage of a pedestrian to a space of less than

forty two (42) inches in width, or

(2)that is placed within forty eight (48) inches of the face of a curb in

legal parking areas, or

(3)that is hung or suspended over the areas referenced in (1) or (2)

above and provides less than seven (7) feet of clear space over the


It’s important to note with upcoming elections, this applies to signs as well.

(f) Any free standing signage placed on a street, alley, sidewalk or public place, must

also comply with the signage requirements established by Section 9-210 of the

Municipal Zoning Ordinance that pertain to free standing signs.

This ordinance doesn’t address keeping your sidewalk free from weeds and grass, but that is the responsibility of the home or business owner.

Another area of concern mentioned was the dog poo. Shepherdstown has almost two dozen Dogi Pots about town to dispose of dog waste. It’s unpleasant and distasteful to see it, smell it, or heaven forbid, step in it, so let’s do a better job of picking up after our pooches. Besides, there’s also an ordinance for that.

Section 4-207 Dogs that deposit waste on public or private property.

(a) Every owner or keeper of a dog which is permitted to deposit waste on public or private property should immediately remove and discard the waste. Such owner or keeper who does not remove such waste from public or private property is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $50.00 nor more than $150.00, upon conviction. Any dog which deposits waste on public or private property is subject to seizure and to impoundment and disposition in the same manner as other animals as provided in Section 4-102.

And what’s with all the cigarette butts? It’s an odd sort of oxymoron that Shepherdstown has a heart for a cleaner environment, but at the same time, we see so many cigarette butts littering the sidewalks and roadways. Not only are they unsightly, but they also leach chemicals into the ground when they get wet.

Town Council noted that there are businesses in town who faithfully clean up their sidewalks each morning, but there are also others that could improve their efforts.

The bottom line is that we can all take ownership of the town as far as clean up. It brings a sense of pride and community when everyone pitches in to make neighborhoods clean and well-kept.

The mayor of Shepherdstown picks up trash and cigarette butts every day as he walks through town. It’s not too much to ask the residents to do the same.

Note: If you have free time on your hands and want to educate yourself about property ordinances, a full version of the International Property Maintenance Codes is available at the library.