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City approves sidewalk variance for neighborhood

March 13, 2012

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A new southeast Lawrence neighborhood will get an exemption from the city’s code requiring sidewalks to be built on both sides of new streets.

Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting approved a variance for an approximately 15-acre single-family and duplex development south and east of 25th Terrace and O’Connell Road.

Commissioners approved the variance for Fairfield Investors, a group led by Lawrence businessman Bill Newsome, in part because the project originally was approved before the 2006 code change requiring sidewalks on both sides of the street.

The project will include five-foot sidewalks on one side of each street. Newsome told commissioners the requirement to build sidewalks on both sides of the street would add about $1,000 to the cost of each lot, which he said ultimately would be passed on to homeowners.

Commissioners approved the variance on a 4-0 vote. City Commissioner Bob Schumm was absent from the meeting.

Comments

sad_lawrencian 3 years, 5 months ago

Again with changing the law to satisfy one local group or developer, while every one else has to abide by a different set of rules. Anyone remember the Tuckaway fake-grass affair? Am I the only one who sees this for what it is?

sad_lawrencian 3 years, 5 months ago

i'm sorry, but your comment makes no sense.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

"the requirement to build sidewalks on both sides of the street would add about $1,000 to the cost of each lot,"

"Follow the money." Then later: "No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I'll confirm. I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just... follow the money." - Deep Throat, played by Hal Holbrook in 'All the President’s Men'

I think the selling price of the homes on the side of the street without a sidewalk will be well over $1,000 more than the value of similar ones across the street that do have one, because with no sidewalk there will be no snow shoveling required by the city. Also, there will never be any other maintenance required for a sidewalk that doesn't exist, and all the pedestrians will be kept farther away from your home.

It would certainly be worth that to me.

For the mathematically challenged, what that means is that it will cost about $1,000 less to build a home without a sidewalk, but then it will be possible to sell it for much more than $1,000 than one that did have one. The net result is there will be an additional profit of over $2,000 per home.

"Newsome told commissioners the requirement to build sidewalks on both sides of the street would add about $1,000 to the cost of each lot, which he said ultimately would be passed on to homeowners."

He is certainly correct, but that cost will be ultimately be passed on to the homeowners across the street from the sidewalk.

awelles 3 years, 5 months ago

It is so sad this variance was approved. I live on a street where people walk. There are places, one even just one house long, that don't have a sidewalks. So people walk to where the sidewalk ends, then step into the street, sometimes cross the street and then do the silly process all over. Not only are the sidewalks well worth the $1,000 to the homeowners, they enhance the closeness of the neighborhood. It's sad the council and the developer are so short sighted. When the rule was made it was for a good reason. The good reason still exists. The ones who voted to approve the variance and the developer should be ashamed. A year from now the $1,000 will be gone and forgotten. Fifty years from now the sidewalk would still be there.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

"So people walk to where the sidewalk ends, then step into the street, sometimes cross the street and then do the silly process all over."

Really? They don't just walk across the lawn?

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

If I were riding my bicycle on that sidewalk, I guarantee you I would ride across that lawn.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

There is a length of 6th Street west of the bus stop where there is no sidewalk for pedestrians to walk on while going home carrying their heavy luggage. Also, many bicyclists, many of them children, use that sidewalk too, where there is one.

The speed limit on 6th Street at that location is 45 mph, so walking on the street or a child riding a bicycle on it is certainly not an option.

For some reason, the landscaping there needs to be redone every couple years or so. In between those times, it looks terrible.

I wonder why that is.

Patricia Davis 3 years, 5 months ago

Isn't there a city ordinance that forbids bikes on sidewalks or is this just downtown?

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

I called the police department here in Lawrence and asked about that a while ago. It is perfectly legal to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk, except near the front door of a business.

So basically, that means that all of the sidewalks downtown are off limits for bicycle riding.

Other states, and perhaps other communities, are different, but in Kansas that issue is governed by the city ordinance.

Patricia Davis 3 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the clarification on this! Now if we can just keep from being ambushed by racing cyclists on Mass St all is good.

1julie1 3 years, 5 months ago

Inverness is a prime example of a street where past sidewalk installation went wrong and why enforcement of the ordinance is needed on all new developments.

Inerness is a favorite street for walkers, including many families and parents pushing strollers. Many children walk to school on this street.

And yet walkers have to cross back and forth, from one side to another, to get to sidewalks as they randomly hop-scotch from one side of the street to another. At one point the crossover at has to be made at the bottom of a hill so walkers can't be seen by drivers (particularly at dusk and dawn).

Walking across lawns is not a good option. Most of the lawns have landscaping where the sidewalk should be.

This is by no means the only example of past sidewalk development gone wrong in Lawrence. There are bad sidewalks made of rotting and uneven brick that cannot be safely traversed, extremely narrow sidewalks where people cannot pass each other while walking, and many, many locations with the sidewalks located scattershot on one side of the street only

There should be no excuse for it not being done the right way in the future. We all know that once they make this exception they might as well admit that they never intended the ordinance to mean anything in the first place.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

"Walking across lawns is not a good option. Most of the lawns have landscaping where the sidewalk should be."

Maybe the homeowners should have considered that when they decided to put in landscaping instead of a sidewalk.

webmocker 3 years, 5 months ago

I want a variance to the ordinance that says I must keep the sidewalk in front of my house cleared of snow and generally in good shape, because the cost of doing those things will just be passed along to a homeowner.

jafs 3 years, 5 months ago

As long as you're willing to pay the costs of lawsuits if/when people slip/fall and injure themselves.

Frankly, it costs me less to shovel my sidewalk.

rockchalker52 3 years, 5 months ago

If a person is killed crossing the street from the end of one sidewalk to the start of another, should the developer be liable for providing an unsafe product? Starter homes have kids living in them. Kids need sidewalks. Without them, the best you can do is 'step on a weed & make your mother bleed.'

Matthew Herbert 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm reminded of Ron Paul's comment at his Friday Lied Center lecture - "how about instead of creating 40,000 new laws this year, we remove 40,000 laws we don't need".

While I'm all for building sidewalks on both sides of the street, if Lawrence has no real intention to honor this law, why bother with the law in the first place?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 5 months ago

First Management expects preferential treatment. What follows will be tax dollars doing sidewalks on the other side of the street. To be in compliance with code.

asixbury 3 years, 5 months ago

What's the deal with the lack of sidewalks in the neighborhood west of Kasold and south of Clinton Parkway? There are tons of kids living in that neighborhood, but no safe place for them to walk!

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

Thoughtlessness on the part of the city planners.

asixbury 3 years, 5 months ago

Isn't the lack of sidewalks somehow in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act? It seems like it would be. There is a guy living in the neighborhood mentioned above that is in a wheelchair, but has to travel down the side of the road, dodging cars to go anywhere.

Matthew Herbert 3 years, 5 months ago

How about the section of 5th and Kasold where, despite being a high traffic area, there exist NO sidewalks on either side.

asixbury 3 years, 5 months ago

That area is the reason I don't ride a bike to work on nice days. I don't want to ride in the heavy traffic, and taking a different route with sidewalks in that section of town would take much longer then would be reasonable for me early in the morning.

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