The city may give its first variance from the city sidewalk ordinance.
That means some local developers will not be required to install sidewalks — for now.
The developers of East Central Mobile Home Court won’t be required to install a 100-foot sidewalk until adjacent areas begin to be developed.
The mobile home park is being developed by Ed Schmelz and Joe Purschke of Bourbeuse Valley Acquisitions.
According to Purschke, who met with the city’s parks, building, development and public service committee Monday, the closest sidewalk is more than a mile from the development.
“We don’t want a sidewalk to nowhere,” he said.
Purschke noted that he doesn’t oppose the sidewalk law, and offered to build a sidewalk at a later date when there are other walkways in the vicinity.
“We want to hook into (a sidewalk),” he said. “We will work with you and be part of the solution.”
The ordinance, approved in September, requires sidewalks in many new residential and commercial districts.
Alderman earlier this month approved an addition of 12 lots 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.
The new development on the east side of the subdivision driveway will “mirror” the existing residential area on the west side of the driveway.
The Union Board of Aldermen must approve all exemptions to the code.
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, including R-4, districts, 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.
Instead of requiring the sidewalk, committee members agreed to “compromise” and require that the sidewalks be built at a later date, once property west of the mobile home park is developed.
“If it (land to the west) is developed, come back and develop the sidewalk,” said Alderman Dustin Bailey.
The requirement would stay with the development, not developers, in case the subdivision is sold.
Alderman Vicki Jo Hooper said city staff should document each of the requests for a variance.
“So we know if it is working or not,” she said.
“I have a genuine concern,” Hooper added. “We already have our first variance before us.”
She explained that there could be multiple requests for variance from the sidewalk law.
“My concern is that we made an ordinance that is not going to be respected,” Hooper said.
The discussion to lift a moratorium on sidewalk 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.