Sidewalk policy needs second look: Warmath


By SAM HATCHERThe Wilson Post           As a controversy continues over a requirement by the City of Lebanon for the installation of sidewalks to accompany the construction of new buildings, one member of the city council is calling for a step-by-step reevaluation of the existing policy.          Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath said Thursday she believes the City’s policy on the issue, which has raised complaints from a number of business, commercial and nonprofit constituencies, deserves to be reevaluated.           She said the process requires that the matter go back to the Lebanon Planning Commission for additional consideration and then be returned to the city council for any final action.           “I don’t want to put businesses and others in an unfair position with requiring the construction of a sidewalk if it’s not appropriate for the site on which new construction has taken place,” Warmath said.          She referred to certain recent incidents where the expansion of some buildings by local businesses or commercial developers had resulted, because of the city’s policy, in sidewalks being built that stood by themselves without connecting to other sidewalks.           “This makes me think we need to reevaluate our sidewalk policy because I think as it is now it has unintended consequences,” she said.           Warmath said she believed the policy should be reviewed on a corridor by corridor basis. She suggested the requirement to build sidewalks to accompany new construction may not be appropriate in industrial subdivisions but would be appropriate as for example “in residential areas.”          She said the matter will be presented before the next regular meeting of the Lebanon Planning Commission and deserves a reevaluation by that group before coming back to the city council.           “I respect the Planning Commission and its members and think that they should have the first look at this issue before the city council. I think we all are looking for the same thing. We want sidewalks in our community but we don’t want to require sidewalks in places where they are not needed and place a hardship on businesses just because they have made a decision to expand.           “Many local businesses are stressed now anyway because of the economy, and I think the last thing we want to do is to add to their stress load,” Warmath said.

Sam Hatcher may be contacted at shatcher@wilsonpost.com.