Section 101-534 Policy Res. 135-00; Establishing a Policy on Requests for Variances to Subdivision Regulations RE: Construction of Sidewalks along Unimproved Streets

Council Bill No.          PR 135-00          


establishing a policy on requests for variances to subdivision regulation requirements for construction of sidewalks along unimproved streets.

    WHEREAS, Chapter 25 of the City Code generally requires sidewalks to be constructed on both sides of all streets within a subdivision; and

    WHEREAS, the City frequently receives requests for variances from these requirements when development occurs along unimproved streets which are not being constructed or reconstructed as part of the subdivision; and

    WHEREAS, the City is committed to assuring safe pedestrian accommodations throughout the City while recognizing that there are occasions when standard sidewalks are not appropriate at the time of subdivision; and

    WHEREAS, the City desires that there will be assurances that pedestrian facilities will be properly constructed at the appropriate time without relieving the subdivider of the responsibility for the cost of sidewalks; and

    WHEREAS, the City Council deems it necessary to adopt a policy statement to serve as a guide in reviewing and acting on requests for variances for sidewalks along unimproved streets in the City.


    SECTION 1.  The City shall review each request for a sidewalk variance along an unimproved street in the context that the public safety and welfare make it desirable to encourage pedestrian movement by providing safe walkways and sidewalks away from traffic lanes of streets.

    SECTION 2.  The City shall determine whether a sidewalk or walkway at the location of the variance request will serve to further the goals of the City in providing those pedestrian accommodations in the immediate or near future.

    SECTION 3.  In making a determination of the need for a sidewalk or walkway at the location of the variance request, the City shall consider but not be limited to the following factors:

    a.    Parks, schools or other pedestrian generators on either side of the development for which a sidewalk or walkway would provide immediate or near future access;
    b.    The existence of sidewalks or walkways that would connect with a pedestrian walkway along the development;
    c.    The density of existing development in the immediate area that would have an immediate use for the sidewalk or walkway;
    d.    Whether the adjacent street is scheduled for reconstruction in the City’s CIP within a 5 year time frame;
    e.    Whether the terrain is such that sidewalks or walkways are physically feasible;
    f.    The extent of which trees, ground cover and natural areas would be impacted by sidewalks or walkways.

    SECTION 4.  If the City finds that in the interest of public safety and welfare there is an immediate or near future need for a sidewalk or walkway at the location of the variance request, the City will approve the variance request only if an alternative walkway is provided.

    SECTION 5.  Alternative walkways are defined as all weather pedestrian facilities constructed in accordance with plans and specifications approved by the Public Works Department.  Alternative walkways may deviate in vertical and horizontal separation from the roadway in order to take advantage of natural contours and minimize the disturbance to trees and natural areas but must meet all requirements for handicap accessibility.  Alternative walkways must be located on public easements but a walkway easement may be conditioned that if the walkways are no longer needed for a public purpose, the walkway easements will be vacated.

    SECTION 6.  When alternative walkways are permitted, plans, specifications and easements must be submitted prior to approval of the final plat abutting the unimproved street and construction must occur prior to the first certificate of occupancy within the platted area.

    SECTION 7.  If the City finds that there is not an immediate or near future need for a sidewalk or walkway at the location of the variance request, the City will approve the variance request only if a development agreement is entered into between the property owner and the City which provides that the owner shall pay to the City an amount equivalent to the cost of construction of a conventional sidewalk.  The City Manager is authorized to execute such agreements on behalf of the City.

    SECTION 8.    The equivalent cost of construction of a conventional sidewalk shall be defined as the City’s average cost of constructing portland cement concrete sidewalks by public bid during the two (2) calendar years prior to the year in which the variance request is submitted.

    SECTION 9.  Payment of the equivalent cost of a conventional sidewalk shall occur:
    a.    prior to approval of the first final plat when the variance is approved in connection with a preliminary plat;
    b.    prior to issuance of the first building permit when approved with a final plat or planned development where no variance request has been made with the preliminary plat; or
    c.    prior to issuance of the certificate of occupancy when variance requests are approved on individual lots where final plats have been approved without variance request.

    SECTION 10.  In all cases, when alternative walkways or development agreements are approved as fulfilling the subdivision requirements for construction of sidewalks, the action of Council shall be noted on a final plat of the properties affected.  In cases where final plats have been previously approved, re-platting will be required.

    ADOPTED this 2nd day of October, 2000.