Alabaster postpones sidewalk ordinance hearingPublished 9:52pm Monday, May 6, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
The Alabaster City Council postponed until June 3 a public hearing on a proposed ordinance requiring city homeowners to pay to repair damaged sidewalks on their properties.
The hearing originally was scheduled to be held during the City Council’s May 6 meeting, but council members said they were not yet ready to move forward on the matter.
“I think there are a few too many grey areas,” Ward 2 Councilman Bob Hicks said during a pre-meeting work session. “I’d be in favor of delaying it.”
The announcement came about a week-and-a-half after the council discussed the sidewalk ordinance during a work session.
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.
During the May 6 pre-meeting work session, Ward 7 Councilman Tommy Ryals said such sidewalk ordinance are “not uncommon,” and said area cities such as Calera and Tuscaloosa have similar ordinances in place.
“Basically, if you bought the house you bought the sidewalk,” Ryals said.
Council President Scott Brakefield said he had many unresolved questions on the matter.
“Some cities put a line item in the budget and just fix it,” Brakefield said.
Ward 3 Councilwoman Stacy Rakestraw said she would be in favor of an appeals process for residents assessed for sidewalk repairs.
The June 3 City Council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Alabaster Municipal Annex behind City Hall.