Residents could shoulder sidewalk expense in Bexley

Bexley City Council continues to wrestle with an ordinance re-establishing a sidewalk inspection program and placing the cost of repairs or replacement on the shoulders of abutting property owners.

Although the ordinance introduced on May 13 was tabled, members of the service committee, led by Chairman Rick Weber, will hold a committee meeting in council chambers on June 18, 6:30 p.m., to further discuss the issue.

"I’d like to have one more discussion in an effort to make the transition from ’04 to the potential inequity of sidewalks previously marked," said Weber during council’s June 10 meeting. "We’re comfortable with the delay (tabling) in an effort to resolve the issue so there will be no inequity. We want to look at cost options to get the city up to speed.

"We’ll have information available as to the costs of sidewalks to date and hopefully make some decisions then."

The proposed ordinance would amend one passed in 2004 and give council the authority to order a property owner to repair, replace, or construct a public sidewalk at their own expense or have the work assessed by the city and placed on their tax bill. Bexley would continue to be responsible for repair or replacement of any sidewalk damaged by the city.

When questioned by a resident, Weber said the cost is not tied to the value of the property, but is assessed according the cost of repair or replacement of defective sidewalks abutting the parcel.

Tree farm sale

An ongoing struggle over the sale of the former Bexley tree farm to Rider Brice Architect and Builders is at an impasse as the agreement winds its way through the legislative and legal process. City Attorney Lou Chodosh said all interested parties need to be revealed and listed on the contract and the city needs to see a partnership agreement between and/or among all parties.

"I personally don’t see how the people on the other side of the table will agree with these six points," Chodosh told council members referring to a half dozen issues he felt need to be ironed out. "My position is to step back and let them approach us.

"As city attorney and a resident, I will not let any partnership put a gun to our head to sell our property. Quite frankly, the contract as it stands now, I can’t recommend to council."

Development Director Bruce Langner said the city went out for bid on the property four years ago and worked with an interested party for three years on development proposals without fruition. The 2.8-acre tract is an unimproved extension of Parkview from North Parkview Avenue at Caroline Avenue north to the railroad right-of-way and is up for sale at $380,000.

Chodosh reported a lawsuit filed a year ago by a citizens group to block the sale of the property should be dismissed with prejudice before Bexley and the buyer meet. The city is also considering reimbursement of fees for defending itself against the legal action.

"The purchase contract needs to reflect that if the city has to buy back the property, it will be for one half the original contract price," wrote Chodosh in a May 31 memo. "The purchasers will become responsible for the property upon closing."

The ordinance continues to proceed through the three-reading process, although council members are unsure whether it will be tabled or voted on at a final reading.  

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