Alabaster passes new sidewalk ordinance, appeal process includedPublished 8:39pm Monday, July 1, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Alabaster residents now can be responsible for paying to repair sidewalks on their properties after the City Council approved a new sidewalk ordinance during its July 1 meeting.
Through the ordinance, the city can now notify residents of a damaged sidewalk on their property and require the property owner to repair it.
Residents will have 30 days from the time of the notice to bring the sidewalk up to state code, or the Alabaster Public Works department will repair the sidewalk and assess the property owner for the cost of the repairs.
Once the repairs are completed, the City Council is required to hold a public hearing to allow the property owner to debate the assessment amount or their liability for the sidewalk damage, said Ward 5 Councilman Russell Bedsole.
“If you as a homeowner have a reason to believe you are not accountable for the damage, you will have a chance to come before the council and say why you shouldn’t be responsible to pay for it,” Bedsole said.
The council passed the ordinance after an about 7-minute public hearing on the matter, during which four Alabaster residents spoke.
Alabaster resident Charles Taylor said he felt the city is responsible for maintaining sidewalks, and said large commercial vehicles have damaged his driveway by using it as a turn-around point.
“Will my homeowners insurance go up because I will be liable for what I consider to be city property?” Taylor asked the council.
“If someone breaks the sidewalk or gutter, I didn’t do that,” echoed Alabaster resident Barbara Corley. “That’s something someone else has done to my sidewalk.”
Ward 3 Councilwoman Stacy Rakestraw encouraged homeowners to document others parking on their sidewalks to present as evidence during a public hearing.
The ordinance passed after several weeks of council discussions on the matter. By adopting the ordinance, the council is enforcing a state law allowing cities to recoup sidewalk repair costs.
“We are adopting something the state already has in place,” said Ward 1 Councilwoman Sophie Martin. “Taxpayer money is being spent to fix places again and again. This is to protect taxpayer money as well.”