11/04/12 — Council will discuss sidewalks

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Council will discuss sidewalks

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on November 4, 2012 1:50 AM

Monday's meeting of the Goldsboro City Council will likely feature a decision on a site and landscape plan proposal from St. Mark's Church of Christ, which has led the council to reconsider its sidewalk construction policies that have been in effect since 2007.

The plans, which ask the council to approve construction projects that will add a canopy, vestibule and parking area, are among the council's items to be considered for individual votes after District 3 Councilman William Goodman asked that the measure be removed from the consent agenda Oct. 1, setting off divisive discussions among council members about the value of the city's sidewalk construction requirements.

The church asked that it not be required to construct sidewalks along its property, which fronts both Ash and Mulberry streets, or pay the sidewalk fee, a compromise struck in 2007 to allow businesses to opt out of costly sidewalk repairs by paying into a city coffer at a reduced rate.

The sidewalk fund is used for city sidewalk construction projects across the city.

The Planning Commission recommended at its Sept. 24 meeting that the sidewalk requirements for West Ash Street be waived, but that the church pay the fee in lieu for its frontage along West Mulberry Street -- about 550 lineal feet.

The sidewalk fee charges developers $15 per lineal foot, meaning the church would owe the city about $8,250.

The fee was a point of contention for District 4 Councilman Rev. Charles Williams, as well, who questioned the use of a sidewalk along Mulberry where a railroad crossing will be closed, isolating that portion of the street from its continuation into the heart of the city.

Other council members questioned the fairness of allowing a waiver for St. Mark's while other churches have been required to pay the fee, leading to the council reconsidering its sidewalk policy as a whole.

Planning Director Randy Guthrie is working to prepare an amendment to the ordinance to offer more exclusions to the sidewalk requirement to be presented at a future council meeting.

The recommendation presented on the agenda for Monday's meeting still includes the Planning Commission's requirement that the church pay the sidewalk fee in lieu for the West Mulberry Street frontage.

That won't be the only discussion of sidewalks Monday night, as Guthrie is expected to discuss the city's sidewalk map in greater detail during the council's work session, which begins at 5 p.m. in the City Hall Annex.

Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan will also have a presentation on the city's neighborhood plan while Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard will offer a draft of his department's new master plan.

Finance Director Kaye Scott will offer a review of the city's major projects while Information Technology Director Scott Williams will update the council on the city's technology usage.