Officials will take into consideration the first possible exemption of the recently approved ordinance that requires sidewalks in new developments.
The ordinance, approved in September, requires sidewalks in many new residential and commercial developments, but provides stipulations when sidewalks may be unnecessary.
Local developer Ed Schmelz submitted a 12-plat map for approval Monday for a proposed addition to the East Central Mobile Home Court located of Halligen Estates Drive south of Highway 50.
Under the new code, a sidewalk is required along 100 feet of Halligen Estates Drive.
“There is no other sidewalk in that area,” said Mayor Mike Livengood. “It’s hard to justify.”
The land is located east of Le Chateau Mobile Home Village and there are no sidewalks connecting the East Central Mobile Home Court.
According to Cameron Lueken with Wunderlich Surveying & Engineering, Inc., the new plat on the east side of the subdivision driveway will “mirror” the existing residential area on the west side of the driveway.
“I think it is kind of useless for 100 feet of sidewalk in this area,” said planning and zoning board member and Alderman Bob Schmuke.
The proposed plat does not include a sidewalk. Lueken said they will follow the procedure seeking exemption from sidewalk code requirements.
“There is a mechanism for this and we will use that mechanism,” he said.
The Union Board of Aldermen must approve all exemptions to the code.
Livengood told The Missourian that the sidewalk ordinance was designed so aldermen don’t put an unnecessary burden on developers in this type of situation.
“The closest sidewalk is a minimum of one mile away — it is kind of impractical,” he said. “If the existing sidewalk quit right there we would probably make him put one in.
“This always leaves us an out,” Livengood added. “It is a good thing that we don’t force someone to put in a sidewalk that will never be used.”
He further explained that some developers who will be required to install sidewalks could use the possible exemption as an example of inequity.
“It’s possible that a developer may come along, may not be happy and use this as an example,” said Livengood. “I don’t think this situation would be comparable to others.”
Some key components of the code state that sidewalks are required when land is developed on both sides of a street with existing sidewalks, R-1 and R-2 zoned areas with three or more dwellings on 1 acre, and other residentially zoned areas that contain more than eight units.
The code also calls for sidewalks in developments that are likely to have foot traffic to schools, daycares, places of employment, retail services, churches or public places. The sidewalks also will be required on arterial or collector streets.
The new code applies only to new developments.
Livengood noted that the city has been replacing deteriorating sidewalks and installed new sidewalks each year.
“We have probably been more proactive in replacing sidewalks than other communities,” he said.
The discussion to lift a moratorium on sidewalks developed after Alderman Dustin Bailey said in June 2011 that community surveys and the city’s comprehensive plan both indicated that Union residents want places to walk.
City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann explained that the city’s planning and zoning commission agreed to place the moratorium on sidewalks between 2001-2003.
In July 2011, the city’s planning board recommended aldermen wait before lifting a moratorium on sidewalk requirements until developers can weigh in on the issue.
It is estimated that sidewalk installations could cost developers between $2,000 and $3,000 per lot. That cost could be passed on to home buyers.
Under the new code, all sidewalks must be accepted and approved by the city engineer.
Developers may come to an agreement with the city to place funds in escrow for one year with the guarantee that the sidewalks are installed.
The developer also could be required to provide easements when a subdivision is adjacent to parks, playgrounds and trails.
Aldermen also may give the approval to construct walkways with suitable materials other than concrete.
The new sidewalks code also sets requirements for sidewalk widths in residential and commercial areas, and all sidewalks must meet ADA standards.