Alabaster plans next steps on sidewalk ordinance

The Alabaster City Council discussed a proposed ordinance to combat damaged sidewalks in the city during a June 11 work session. (Contributed)

The Alabaster City Council discussed a proposed ordinance to combat damaged sidewalks in the city during a June 11 work session. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Some Alabaster City Council members voiced support for a resident appeal process if a proposed city sidewalk ordinance is enacted in the future, and said the ordinance would mirror several homeowners association covenants already in effect.

The comments came during a June 11 City Council work session at the Alabaster Senior Center – about a week after the council delayed a public hearing on the proposed sidewalk ordinance.

The public hearing is now scheduled for the council’s July 1 meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. at the Alabaster Municipal Annex.

“We have postponed two public hearings on this. I’d like to get a decision made,” said Council President Scott Brakefield, noting the council “doesn’t have to vote” on the matter on July 1.

Alabaster leaders began discussing the possible sidewalk ordinance during a late April work session, during which City Attorney Jeff Brumlow said the city is partially liable for any injuries caused as a result of a damaged sidewalk.

Brumlow previously 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 and recouping the repair cost, according to Brumlow.

Council members Tommy Ryals, Bob Hicks and Russell Bedsole voiced support for laying out an appeals process if the new ordinance passes.

“I think we should provide some sort of viable recourse to the property owner,” Hicks said. “But the burden of proof is on the homeowner to show something or somebody else caused the damage.”

Brakefield said sidewalks are prominent in several of the city’s newest neighborhoods, and Mayor Marty Handlon said several of those neighborhoods’ covenants already place the responsibility for sidewalk repair on the homeowner or homeowners association.

“We would not be doing anything that’s not already in place,” said Ward 1 Councilwoman Sophie Martin. “We would just be bringing it to the forefront.”