The rules vary slightly depending on where you hang your hat.

But, generally speaking, you must shovel the sidewalk when it snows in York County — or risk a fine.

In York City, property owners have 12 hours to clear a 36-inch path after the snow stops falling. The city's code-enforcement bureau takes the rule seriously but is also flexible in its enforcement, said Steve Buffington, the city's building-code official.

For example, if York County gets the forecast foot of snow Thursday, city code officers won't be rushing to cite people immediately, Buffington said.

"These big snows can be a little onerous," he said. "If people are out working on it, we're not going to say much about it."

However, some folks are just lazy. And those folks — 250 of them last week — will be cited, Buffington said. It's up to a judge to settle on an amount, but there's a minimum fine of $100.

"My sense is that it seems like we're writing more citations this year than we did in other years. And I don't know why that is," he said. "I don't know if people are just getting tired of having to shovel or what. But unfortunately it does have to be done."

Though it's not required, Buffington also urged city residents to clear fire hydrants of ice and snow.

Residents of Springettsbury Township have 24 hours after the end of a snowstorm to clear their sidewalks. The township tries to diplomatically gain compliance but will issue citations if warnings don't work, township manager John Holman said.

"The people are keeping up with it," Holman said. "The citizens are really doing a good job. We know it's been a tough winter."

In Spring Garden Township, residents have 12 hours to clear sidewalks "after the last snowflake falls," said Clifford Gordon, the township's code-enforcement officer.

Businesses in Hanover Borough have just 10 hours to clear their sidewalks, but residents have 24 hours.

"If it becomes a problem, they will go out and fine them," said Stephanie Jarbeck, who works in the borough's billing department.

Dover Borough gives residents just eight hours to clear sidewalks, but enforcement is flexible, said Janet Shirey, the borough's secretary/treasurer.

"We knew it was going to be a hard winter," she said. "Obviously it's common sense."

In a post on its website, Spring Grove Borough advises residents they must "remove snow and ice from walkways within 24 hours."

Likewise, Red Lion Borough posted a "friendly reminder" to residents to clear sidewalks of snow and ice to a width of 36 inches within 12 hours of the last snowflake.

Like every rule, there's an exception to this one.

In Manchester Township, sit back and relax. There's no requirement to shovel the sidewalks there, said Stewart Olewiler, the township's zoning and planning officer.

"It's too hard to enforce," Olewiler said. "You just can't throw (snow) in the street."

— Reach Erin James at