SMITHFIELD – Members of the Smithfield Town Council listened to a request from Planning Director Stephen Wensman at their August council meeting. Mr. Wensman suggested the Unified Development Ordinance could be amended, allowing contractors to pay a fee to the Town in lieu of constructing a sidewalk in front of a new development.
The Town requires a 5 foot wide sidewalk along all commercial frontages with new construction. Mr. Wensman said developers often complain about “sidewalks to nowhere” because adjacent properties don’t have sidewalks, especially in extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) areas.
Wensman wants developers to be allowed to pay a “fee in lieu of” constructing sidewalks, and the fee collected could be used by the Town to construct sidewalks in other areas, where new sidewalks are needed, or existing sidewalks are in need of repair. The intent, he said, was to fill in gaps of the existing sidewalk network, and build out from the center of town.
The Planning Board reviewed the request in July and recommended approval of the fee in lieu of option, but only when a developer could show a hardship case.
Mayor Andy Moore had concerns about the fee and its perception.
At the request of Councilman Travis Scott, the council postponed voting on the request until they could gather more information from staff about the potential impacts.