10/12/12 — City has rules for sidewalk location

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City has rules for sidewalk location

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on October 12, 2012 1:46 PM

There is a place where the sidewalk ends, but since 2005 city officials have been focused on ensuring that place isn't Goldsboro.

That year the Goldsboro City Council put in place the city's Universal Development Ordinance, which required that sidewalks be installed along the streets adjacent to all new developments and extensively renovated properties.

Changes in use, expansion by more than half of the building's space or expansion that costs more than half of the tax value of the property necessitate the sidewalk requirements, along with properties where operations have ceased for more than a year.

The council decided to relax those requirements in 2007, allowing council members, on a case-by-case basis, to waive the sidewalk requirement at their discretion with applicants paying a sidewalk fee instead.

Developers often opt to pay the fee to save money as the city's $15 per lineal foot rate is oftentimes cheaper than sidewalk costs, which hover at about $25 per lineal foot.

Those fees are compounded into a line item in the city's budget devoted to sidewalk construction in the city's priority areas.

Money from the fund was used to install sidewalks on Park Avenue through Herman Park and on Wayne Memorial Drive.

The council looked over proposed sidewalk projects at its most recent meeting, which showed estimates of how much it would cost to install sidewalks along the following roads:

* Harris Street from Slocumb Street to Stoney Creek Parkway, $120,000

* Berkeley Boulevard from Ash Street to Elm Street, $36,000

* Spence Avenue from Ash Street to U.S. 70, $160,000

* Elm Street from Slocumb Street to Berkeley Boulevard, $220,000

* Royall Avenue from William Street to Spence Avenue, $297,500

* Royall Avenue from Spence Avenue to Berkeley Boulevard, $125,000

* Central Heights Road from Berkeley Boulevard to New Hope Road, $220,000

* John Street from Elm Street to Dixie Trail, $178,750.

District 3 Councilman William Goodman asked at a previous council meeting that a traffic study be done to determine where sidewalks should be installed, asking specifically about sidewalks along John Street.

District 4 Councilman Rev. Charles Williams also said he would like to see a sidewalk along John Street.

That project could potentially get an extra boost, since it might qualify as a public facilities project that could benefit from Community Development Block Grant funding. The Elm Street section could also qualify, as public facilities projects must serve 51 percent low- and moderate income households.

There is currently $39,508 in the city's sidewalk fund.

But just weeks after they asked about the likelihood of getting sidewalks for John Street, both council members voiced their disagreement with the Planning Commission's recommendation to require a church to pay its sidewalk fee, even though the recommendation was to waive one of the church's required payments.

St. Mark Church of Christ on West Ash Street asked for a site plan modification to expand its facility by adding a vestibule and a canopy -- enough of an expansion to qualify it for the sidewalk requirements.

Because of the elevation along Ash Street, the Planning Commission did not recommend requiring the church to install a sidewalk or pay the fee for that frontage, but did ask that it pay the fee for the sidewalk frontage on Mulberry Street.

Sidewalks were deemed to be unnecessary along Mulberry due to the closing of the railroad crossing there, which would have left the sidewalk leading to nowhere.

Goodman asked during the council's work session that the item, which was on the agenda to be approved as recommended by consent, be taken from the consent agenda.

He offered no discussion on the topic at the time and instead revealed his intention during the council's regular meeting in the Council chambers, moving that the council approve all of the requested modifications to the sidewalk requirements, which included waiving the fee for Mulberry Street.

Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen pointed out that the council had just approved six other site and landscape plans which all requested sidewalk waivers of some form or another. The council had even required the Clinic of Life Church, which aims to construct on Graves Drive, to pay the sidewalk fee.

At this point it became unclear whether Williams understood what was being proposed, as he continued to question the worth of having a sidewalk on Mulberry Street, but other council members and Planning Director Randy Guthrie were unable to satisfy him with an explanation that the church was only asking that the church pay the fee for the lineal feet along the Mulberry frontage.

Council members talked over each other and Guthrie to the point that Mayor Al King had to ask them to speak one at a time, but in the end, District 1 Councilman Michael Headen asked that the item be tabled until a later meeting.

Goodman asked that the measure be delayed for 30 days, which the rest of the council agreed upon.

It was determined that Guthrie would provide a breakdown of the times the council has waived all sidewalk requirements for a development, something the council has done very rarely since the sidewalk fee was put in place.

The measure will likely be discussed at the council's Nov. 5 meeting.