NEWS HEADLINES

Decatur P&Z wants to look at sidewalk issue

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, August 23, 2014

Decatur’s Planning and Zoning Commission wants to look at the sidewalk, curb and gutter issue – and they have put a couple of “formal requests” on the city council’s agenda for Monday.

Perhaps the most frequent variance request the commission faces is citizens asking to be excused from the requirement that they install sidewalks, curbs and gutters when they develop property.

Council policy has been to deny those requests, requiring property owners and developers to either put in the curbs, gutters and sidewalks, or deposit the money to do so in an escrow account maintained by the city.

The commission is asking the council to:

  • provide direction on sidewalk, curb and gutter variance requests – specifically, “how best to proceed” when those requests come to them; and
  • direct city staff to prepare and present a report on escrowed funds including the procedure for utilizing the funds, prioritization of usage, fund balance, designation of the account as restricted, previous projects and what criteria the city uses for determining project eligibility.

Monday’s meeting begins with a work session at 5:30, followed by the regular council meeting at 6 p.m.

Both sessions are open to the public.

The work session will be taken up mostly with reports from Planning Director Dedra Ragland on building permits, inspections, etc. Public Works Director Earl Smith will also report on a list of activities in water/wastewater, streets and other areas.

Fire Chief Mike Richardson is also scheduled to report to the council on his department’s activities.

In the regular meeting, the council will face one of those sidewalk variance requests – this one from Stephen Eckert on Miller Street, for a property he is developing on Shoemaker Street. The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the variance.

Eckert’s replat request for the Shoemaker Street property, and a request from Jackie Hutto for a replat on property on Cottonwood Street, are also on the council’s agenda, along with a public hearing on the budget and tax rate.

The council meets at City Hall, 201 E. Walnut St.

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