City may require homeowners to pay for damaged sidewalksPublished 9:47pm Thursday, April 25, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
The Alabaster City Council will hold a public hearing during its May 6 meeting to gather feedback on a proposed ordinance requiring homeowners to repair damaged sidewalks on their property.
The council announced the public hearing during its April 25 work session at the Alabaster Senior Center. The public hearing will be held during the council meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Alabaster Municipal Annex.
During the work session, Alabaster City Attorney Jeff Brumlow said state law places responsibility for sidewalk maintenance on the owner of the property the sidewalk is on. However, the city must first pass an ordinance laying out the process for holding the property owner accountable before taking action against the property owner, Brumlow said.
If the ordinance passes, it will allow the city to notify a property owner of a damaged sidewalk on their property and require them to fix it. The homeowner will have the option of either hiring a contractor to fix the damaged sidewalk or allowing the city to repair it.
If the city fixes the sidewalk, it could then place a lien against the property for the amount of the repairs, Brumlow said.
“The city can require them to fix it, and can attach the cost of that to their property,” Brumlow said. “After the repairs are done, public works sends an assessment to the homeowner and the City Council, and then there’s a public hearing to determine the actual cost.”
Though maintaining the sidewalk is the property owner’s responsibility, the sidewalk is in the right-of-way, Brumlow said.
“If someone gets hurt on a broken sidewalk, the city can be sued and can be held liable,” Brumlow said.
City Manager George Henry said he has received numerous calls reporting damaged sidewalks throughout the city.
“We just want some direction before we move forward with this,” Henry told the council members.
Brumlow said an existing city ordinance protects homeowners from paying for sidewalks damaged by developers. Through the ordinance, developers are required to put up a bond to cover the cost of repairing any roads or sidewalks they damage during construction.
“Homeowners in areas where developers are doing work have some protection,” Brumlow said.