Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are my responsibilities for clearing snow?  And what about parking during snowstorms?

A: All vehicles must be removed from city streets after two and one-half inches of snowfall.  Vehicles may be impounded (towed) at the discretion of the City and the Police Department, and penalties for impoundment are $150 plus $5 per day for storage.  Notification of the need to move vehicles will usually come in the form of an announcement on local media (radio, television and the Daily Star). It is always the responsibility of the vehicle owner to move the vehicle at any time that two and a half inches of snow has accumulated.

During snow emergency events, free overnight parking is permitted in any of the city's municipal lots or the parking garage on Market Street until plows have cleared the streets.

The following text is from Chapter 254 of the City of Oneonta Code, pertaining to the clearing of snow and ice from sidewalks and other places, as well as from Chapter 282, pertaining to parking on city streets after snowstorms and the rights of the city to impound vehicles.

§ 254-17. Snow and ice.

A. Removal from sidewalks; duty of owner, occupant.

It shall be the duty of the owner and occupant of each and every parcel of real estate in the city, abutting or bordering upon any street, avenue, highway or other public place, to remove or cause to be removed all snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of or adjacent to such premises to the full paved width of such sidewalk before 9:00 a.m. of each day; provided, however, that where footways or sidewalks have not been paved or duly established, snow and ice shall be removed to a width of not less than four feet from that portion of the street or way which is used in common as a footway in such street or way.

B. Use of ashes, sand, similar material.

In case the snow and ice on the sidewalk shall be frozen so hard that it cannot be removed without injury to the pavement, the owner and occupant of every parcel of said real estate shall, within the time specified in the preceding section, cause the sidewalk abutting or adjacent to such premises to be strewn and to be kept strewn with ashes, sand or some other suitable material and shall as soon thereafter as the weather shall permit thoroughly clean such sidewalk.

C. Removal from roofs; duty of owner, occupant.

It shall also be the duty of the owner and occupant of any buildings abutting upon or near to any public street, sidewalk or place so located that snow or ice may fall from the roof thereof into or upon such street, sidewalk or place to cause all snow and ice to be removed from such roof before 9:00 a.m. of each day or to provide suitable guards so that the ice or snow shall not be discharged upon the sidewalk.

D. Authority of Department of Public Service to cause removal; assessment of cost of removal by city.

Whenever any owner or occupant of such parcel of real estate shall fail or neglect to remove such snow and ice as aforesaid, the Board of Public Service may have the snow and ice removed therefrom without notice to such owner or occupant, and the cost of such removal, together with an additional charge of 50% thereof for supervision and administration, shall be assessed against such property, and the same shall be levied, corrected, enforced and collected in the same manner, by the same proceedings, at the same time, under the same penalties, and having the same lien upon the property so assessed as the general City tax and as a part thereof.
 

§ 282-39. Authority to impound vehicles.

A. When any vehicle is parked, standing, left unattended or abandoned on any public street or highway within the City during a flood, fire or other public emergency, which affects that portion of the public street or highway upon which said vehicle is parked, standing, left unattended or abandoned, said vehicle may be removed by authority of the Supervisor of Streets and Parks or by authority of the Oneonta Police Department.

B. When any vehicle is parked, standing, left unattended or abandoned on any public street or highway within the City during a snowstorm or after a precipitation of snow of 2 1/2 inches or more and continuing to such time as the snow is plowed and removed from the streets by the Department of Public Works, said vehicle may be removed by authority of the Supervisor of Streets and Parks or the Oneonta Police Department.

C. When any vehicle is parked, standing, left unattended or abandoned on any public street or highway within the City when the Department of Public Works has posted appropriate signs at least 12 hours in advance of its intention to engage in snow removal, sweeping, washing or maintenance work affecting that portion of the public streets or highway upon which said vehicle is parked or abandoned, said vehicle may be removed by authority of the Supervisor of Streets and Parks or by the Oneonta Police Department. The signs to be used in giving such no-parking notice shall be placed as near as possible to the curb, if any, and with sufficient frequency along the street so as to be visible and legible to any reasonable person.

D. When any vehicle is found to be in violation of Subsection A(1), (2) or (3) above, such vehicle may be impounded and towed to a place of storage, at the expense of the owner, by the authority of the Supervisor of Streets and Parks or by the authority of the Supervisor of Public Works, or by the authority of the Oneonta Police Department or any officer thereof.

E. When any vehicle is found unattended on any highway within this City where said vehicle constitutes an obstruction to traffic, or with expired registration, said vehicle may be removed by authority of the Supervisor of Streets and Parks or any Police Officer.

F. When any vehicle is parked or abandoned on any highway within this City where stopping, standing or parking is prohibited, said vehicle may be removed by authority of the Supervisor of Streets and Parks or any Police Officer.

G. When a vehicle is found unattended on private property of another, upon receipt of a signed complaint by the owner of such property that said vehicle was parked on said property without his permission, said vehicle may be removed by any Police Officer.

Q: What is the City Noise Ordinance, and what does it mean?

A: Students and members of the community sometimes inquire about what level of noise can be created without violating the City of Oneonta Municipal Code concerning noise. Here is the best answer:

If at any time of the day or night you host a party or gathering or engage in an activity in which an excessive amount of noise is created which disturbs the peace, quiet, and comfort of neighboring residents (or any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness), you may be in violation of this section. A violation of the following section could result in a ticket on the scene or a custodial arrest with a bail requirement, depending upon the circumstances.

Disturbing the peace might mean almost anything - running your jackhammer at three in the morning, letting your son practice his drums with an open window next door to a family with a newborn baby, or repeatedly having a screaming argument with your boyfriend that the renters upstairs cannot avoid hearing.  The key question is whether a "reasonable person of normal sensitiveness" would find such conduct excessive or disturbing.  The difference between a reasonable and unreasonable complaint it subtle, but don't worry; the Oneonta Police have a lot of experience with this and will sort it all out.

The text of chapter 178:

§ 178-3. Unreasonable noise prohibited; prohibited noises enumerated.

It shall be unlawful for any person to willfully make or continue, or cause to be made or continued, any loud, unnecessary, unreasonable or unusual noise, or to permit any other so to do, which disturbs the peace or quiet within the geographical boundaries of the City of Oneonta, or which causes discomfort or annoyance to any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness.  For the purposes of this chapter, it shall be presumed that the owner, tenant, person or persons in possession or control, and the occupants of the particular premises, are, jointly or severally, permitting such noise. Prohibited noises may arise from the following activities, but the following list shall not be deemed to be exclusive:

A. The use or operation, or allowing any other person or persons to use or operate, any radio receiving set, musical instrument or instruments, phonograph, television set, amplifier, loudspeaker, or other machine or device for the producing or reproducing of sound in such manner as to disturb the peace, quiet and comfort of neighboring residents or of any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness, whether residing in the area or not.  This provision shall not be construed to prohibit public performances being conducted in accordance with the provisions of a special permit granted by the City.

B. Any noise on any street, sidewalk or public place adjacent to any school, institution of learning or church while the same is in use or adjacent to any hospital, which noise unreasonably interferes with the workings of such institution or which disturbs or unduly annoys patients in the hospital, provided that conspicuous signs are displayed in such streets, sidewalks or public places indicating the presence of a school, church or hospital.

C. The hawking, peddling or sale by outcry within any area of the City. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prohibit the selling by outcry of merchandise, food and beverages at licensed sporting events, parades, fairs, circuses and other similar licensed public entertainment events.

D. The maintenance or harboring, or allowing the keeping of, upon any premises owned, occupied or controlled by such person, any animal or fowl otherwise permitted to be kept which by any sound, cry or behavior shall cause annoyance or discomfort to a reasonable person of normal sensitiveness.

E. The operation of any machinery, equipment, pump, fan, air-conditioning apparatus or similar mechanical device in any manner so as to create any noise which would cause annoyance or discomfort to a reasonable person of normal sensitiveness.

F. The performance or engagement in construction or repair work after 9:00 p.m. or before 7:00 a.m., excepting emergency work and including but not limited to building, excavation, site preparation, hoisting, grading, demolishing, dredging or pneumatic hammering, where the standards for determination so dictate or in such a manner that a reasonable person of normal sensitiveness in the area is caused discomfort or annoyance.

G. The repair, rebuilding or testing of any motor vehicle, excepting emergency repairs, where the standards for determination so dictate or in such a manner that a reasonable person of normal sensitiveness in the area is caused discomfort or annoyance.

H. The operation or sounding, or causing to be operated or sounded, a train horn or train whistle, or any horn or security alarm or other auditory signaling device where the standards for determination so dictate or in such a manner that a reasonable person of normal sensitiveness in the area is caused discomfort or annoyance, except as required by law or to provide a warning signal during use thereof. This provision shall not be construed to prohibit the use and operation of a signal device in an emergency vehicle.

I. The operation of a vehicle without an adequate muffler or exhaust system to prevent any unreasonable noise in violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law § 375, Subdivision 31.

J. The use and operation of any sound-reproduction device in a vehicle which would constitute a threat to the safety of pedestrians or vehicle operators or where conditions of overcrowding or street repair or other physical conditions are such that the use of a sound-reproduction device would deprive the public the right to the safe, comfortable, convenient and peaceful enjoyment of a public street, park or place for public purpose and would constitute a threat to the safety and welfare of the public.

K. The operation of a bar, nightclub or tavern while any doors or windows to such establishment are open enough to allow emanating noise to reasonably disturb neighboring residences. [Added 4-6-2004 by Ord. No. 1-2004]

§ 178-4. Standards for determination.

The standard or standards to be considered in determining whether a noise is unreasonable noise which constitutes a prohibited noise shall include, but not be limited to, one or more of the following:

A. The volume of the noise.
B. The intensity of the noise and/or its purpose.
C. Whether the nature of the noise is usual or unusual.
D. Whether the origin of the noise is natural or unnatural.
E. The volume and intensity of the background noise, if any.
F. The proximity of the noise to residential sleeping facilities.
G. The nature and the zoning district of the area within which the noise emanates.
H. The date, time of day or night the noise occurs.
I. The duration of the noise.
J. Whether the noise is temporary.
K. Whether the noise is continuous or impulsive.
L. The presence of discrete tones.

Q:What are the kinds of criminal offenses that might stem from parties?

A: Besides the issues covered in the City Ordinance on Noise, hosting parties could create situations that result in two general criminal charges:

Criminal Nuisance in the second degree:

A person is guilty of criminal nuisance when; By conduct either unlawful in itself or unreasonable under all circumstances he knowingly or recklessly creates or maintains a condition which endangers the safety or health of a considerable number of persons; Or He knowingly conducts or maintains any premises, place or resort where persons gather for purposes of engaging in unlawful conduct. Criminal Nuisance in the second degree is a class B Misdemeanor

This might include allowing very large groups of people to congregate in structures, creating an unsafe situation in case of a fire or if a fight should break out.  It may also include allowing drug use, gambling or indeed anyillegal activity - the host of the event becomes in part legally responsible for those actions.

Unlawfully Dealing with a Child in the First Degree:

A person is guilty of Unlawfully Dealing with a Child in the First Degree when he gives or sells or causes to be given or sold any alcoholic beverage as defined by section three of the alcohol beverage control law to a person less than 21 years old. Unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree is a Class A Misdemeanor.

This is straightforward - if you have anything at all to do with people under age 21 obtaining alcohol, you may be charged with this crime.

Q: Can I get fingerprints done by the Department?

A: The City of Oneonta Police Department provides a fingerprinting service for those members of the public who reside in the City of Oneonta, and/or for businesses in the City of Oneonta, who are unable to perform the fingerprinting need for their prospective employees.  This service is performed during the hours of 9 am to 6 pm daily.  Persons requesting this service must provide their own fingerprint cards and must possess valid photo identification. Identification accepted are U.S. passports, driver’s licenses, and U.S military identification. There is no fee for this service however, requesters need to understand this service is provided on an availability basis.

Employment applicants for the Oneonta City School District should contact School Resource Officer Steve Havens who can fingerprint them at his office in the Oneonta High School. His contact number is 433-3659.

Q:What should I do with Found Property, and what will happen to something I lost that was turned in to OPD?

A: Found Property which is located within the geographical boundaries of the City of Oneonta Police Department may be turned into our agency for safekeeping and shall be kept in the police department’s custody for the following periods, unless sooner delivered to the actual owner.

Property having a value of less than one hundred dollars or proceeds of property having such value shall be held for three months; property having a value of one hundred dollars or more but less than five hundred dollars or proceeds of property having such value shall be held for six months; property having a value of five hundred dollars or more but less than five thousand dollars or proceeds of property having such value, shall be held for one year; property having a value of five thousand dollars or more or proceeds of property having such value, shall be held for three years.

Anyone finding property can stop by the Oneonta Police Department 24 hours a day to turn such property over to our agency. If you’ve lost property anywhere in the City, you may contact our agency at 432-1113 to inquire if anyone has turned such property in to us.