ASHLAND – The Ashland City Council walked through a discussion about replacing sidewalks during their most recent meeting.
Last Thursday, the council decided by consensus to not require property owners to install sidewalks over gravel driveways where none existed before while replacing or repairing sidewalks.
City Administrator Jessica Quady said the question came up as residents prepare to comply with the city’s sidewalk improvement plan. The city is divided up into segments that will be tackled in phases in an effort to repair or replace faulty and defective sidewalks that could cause personal injury. Phase 1 includes property from 18th Street east to Highway 6.
Quady said the Federal Highway Administration does not require a property owner to put in a sidewalk where there was not one before. A home owner is replacing their sidewalk, which does not cover their gravel driveway.
Mayor Rick Grauerholz said he did not see anything in the city regulations that would require the property owner to fill the gap. Quady said the city only requires a sidewalk be placed where there was not one before when a new home is built or during renovation when the percentage of the project is worth more than 50% of the home’s value.
Council Member Jim Anderson advocated “closing that gap” in order to make it accessible for someone in wheelchair. In the end, the mayor and the majority of the council, which also included Bruce Wischmann and Chuck Niemeyer, determined by consensus that the property owner should not have to put the sidewalk over the gravel driveway.
The discussion prompted more talk about the sidewalk program. Local resident and business owner Ray Elwood spoke out against the city’s sidewalk improvement plan, saying it was an example of “too much government.” He has issue with the city’s requirement that he replace a portion of his sidewalk that was installed by the Nebraska Department of Transportation during the Highway 66/14th Street widening project.
“It was put in incorrectly,” he said.
The council also discussed what to do with concrete debris caused by improvement projects. A contractor told Quady it was not feasible to remove three or four concrete panels and haul them out of town. They asked if there was a place in Ashland to dump the rubble.
Quady said the city uses a spot on Ninth Street for concrete debris, but Public Works Director Shane Larson suggested also piling the rip rap near the old rodeo grounds. However, the council chose to leave the concrete refuse pile where it is currently located.
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