Council approves two proposed sidewalk projects

The Albemarle City Council on Monday night approved two sidewalks projects that would be completed utilizing the fee-in-lieu funds the city collects.

The sidewalk fee-in-lieu program, which was approved by council in 2019, allows for developers to pay a fee in lieu of building sidewalks as long as they meet certain criteria within the city’s zoning regulations. The money is collected and then set aside in a fund for future sidewalk construction in the area.

The property owner can submit an application to the city to pay the fee-in-lieu. Once the application has been approved, the property owner must pay 75 percent of the approved cost to the city prior to the development being completed, according to the zoning ordinance.

While a few builders and property owners have chosen to install sidewalk construction themselves, over the past few years 52 of the 62 properties that took advantage of the program have been single family homes, according to Planning Director Kevin Robinson. That number makes up $75,000 of the $119,000 the program has generated for new sidewalks in the last two years.

The city is divided into five color-coded pedestrian improvement zones or districts and the city has either identified proposed projects or is exploring future ones within each of them. Funds from each specific property must be spent within the corresponding pedestrian improvement zone. The council approved proposed projects within Pedestrian District 2 and Pedestrian District 4.

District 2 involves installing about 170 feet of sidewalk along the west side of Leonard Avenue. It would connect recent NCDOT extension with pre-existing sidewalks on Leonard. The cost is estimated to be around $3,000.

The project for District 4 would install about 300 feet of sidewalk on the north side of Pee Dee Avenue from Ridge Street to existing sidewalks just west of the Arey Avenue intersection. The completion of the project would provide continuous sidewalk from downtown to Ridge Street and connect to hardened surfaces at remaining properties east toward Moss Springs, according to a document Robinson provided to council showing the proposed projects.

Though most of the sidewalk cost is funded, a large section of low retaining wall will need to be installed and a pole and meter boxes will need to be moved. The cost for the project is estimated to be between $15,000 t0 $17,000.

A project that is being reviewed and will likely come back up for council approval in the near future involves installing about 2,300 feet of sidewalk along the west side of Anderson Road connecting future NCDOT sidewalks at the N.C. Highway 24-27/East Main Street roundabout with sidewalks on Yorkshire Drive.

The next scheduled regular council meeting is 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15.