Proposed Sidewalk Fee Option For Developers Tabled

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.


  1. I lived in a subdivision in Clayton where the developer paid fee in lieu of for sidewalks. After several years, the HOA approached the town about using the fee’s to resolve a storm water drainage issue (since no sidewalks were ever installed) the Town stated that they never received any fees in lieu of 🤔 (imagine that they just disappeared). About 5 years later the town sent notices to the residents of the subdivision that they were going to install sidewalks. By that time, it had been about 20 years and the residents didn’t want sidewalks the neighborhood was already established without them, so the town never installed the sidewalks. But they kept the money $$. Fee in lieu of sidewalks is just a set up for fraud, it’s basically buying the approval of a subdivision by giving the town money. That doesn’t have to be used for they purpose.

    Think about this question, Why would anyone (town) want to accept monies from the developer not to install sidewalks now and then supposedly (the Town) would pay to install the sidewalks in the future (5-10 years down the road) when the cost to install the sidewalks would be much higher?? Sounds a lot like a payoff to me.


  2. What’s the point of having an ordinance if you don’t enforce it? I wonder how many donations these councilmembers received from developers? #FollowTheMoney #VoteOutIncumbents

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