By Judy Wiley
The map that dictates whether sidewalks are required in Colleyville may be scuttled, as the city looks for ways to both increase walkability and refine an ordinance that some residents say is unfair.
Some property owners have been unhappy with the ordinance because it forces them to either build a sidewalk or pay into an escrow fund. In the case of some redeveloped properties, the required sidewalks do not link to anything, leaving what resident Chris Putnam calls "sidewalks to nowhere."
As it stands now, a map created by the Sidewalk Committee dictates whether a sidewalk is required or not, and whether money can be placed in escrow in lieu of building one.
The City Council called a joint workshop with the Sidewalk Committee workshop Nov. 12 to try to resolve some of the problems.
"Maybe we don't need the map," said Mayor David Kelly at the meeting. "We need a policy that indicates how we treat sidewalks. Then, from that, we may build the map."
Requests for waivers are heard by the Planning and Zoning Commission and appeals of those decisions come to the City Council. One suggestion to streamline the process was to let city staff make decisions on waivers.
Putnam, who has pushed for changes to the ordinance, said he was disappointed he was not allowed to speak at the workshop. He sent the council an email and PowerPoint presentation outlining his concerns and criticisms of the current policy.
Putnam said he had to pay the city more than $6,000 to place in escrow despite the fact he didn't want or need a sidewalk and it would connect to nothing.
One of his points is that residents should not have to build sidewalks where none exist and there are no plans or timelines for adding them.
The council and committee examined various scenarios posed by city engineer Jeremy Hutt. The issue has most often come up in the case of property owners who demolish an older home and rebuild on the same lot, which triggers the sidewalk requirement even though there may be no others in the area.
Kelly has repeatedly said that the sidewalk ordinance was created in response to citizen surveys that show residents want a more pedestrian-friendly city.
No final decisions were made at the workshop, and the city staff will draw up policies for the council to discuss or approve later.