Citizen complaints prompt council to reconsider city code

Fairview business people and property owners have written letters and complained to the Fairview City Council about the city’s requirement that they be the ones to fix uplifted sidewalks in the Village community caused by growing tree roots.

Under city policy, property owners pay to fix sidewalks and replace trees, and must get it done within 60 days of the city receiving a complaint about a sidewalk.

But these folks think the city should pay for the repairs because city code also requires owners to plant trees, which is the instigator of the problem.

Those in the Village neighborhood are not the only ones with sidewalks needing a fix, but residents say the area is particularly bad.

“We have massive failures on Village,” Jeff Anderson told the council Wednesday, June 5. He lives on Village Street, home to residences and merchants.

Anderson said the wrong trees have been planted, which has resulted in the wrong compaction of sidewalks.

He called it “a toxic mess of good intention and wrong implementation.”

“We as Village Street owners are suffering adversely from that,” he said, “I think we deserve a quick remedy.”

The Fairview City Council has met twice in one-hour workshops to discuss who is responsible for fixing the sidewalks and replacing the trees.

At the end of the second workshop with city councilors Thursday, Mayor Mike Weatherby elected a subcommittee chaired by Councilor Steve Prom to nail down a resolution, ideally by Fairview’s next council meeting.

City Administrator Samantha Nelson introduced the meeting with what other cities do in this situation.

“Predominantly, cities require property owners to maintain sidewalks,” she said. But, she said, some cities have implemented programs to assist with that.

Councilors were handed a revised city code drafted by Lindsey Nesbitt, development analyst. Attached was a sidewalk maintenance program.

The council did hash out a couple of basics, none of which sounded like the city would take responsibility for the costs.

Councilors agreed to take a more proactive approach in enforcing needed sidewalk repairs. They also decided to extend the number of days homeowners have to repair their sidewalks.

The council decided to keep a more consistent inventory of sidewalks in the city that need fixing. The last inventory was completed in the summer of 2011.

At the end of the council meeting, big questions still remained, such as, “At what level of funding is the city willing to help homeowners take care of sidewalks and trees?” and “Should the costs be shared?”

Lastly, “Should the city continue to mandate trees?”

Councilor Ken Quinby said broken sidewalks are a city-created problem.

“We’ve forced people into a situation where they have to do the work and fund it, and we mandate it, and we are not helping out,” he said.

Councilor Tamie Arnold agreed with Quinby, as did Councilor Dan Kreamier.

“I don’t think it’s right, just or fair for us to say plant a tree, maintain the sidewalk,” Kreamier said.

Mayor Weatherby delegated the final resolution to a new subcommittee, which includes Prom, Quinby and Kreamier.

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