City adopts new sidewalk policy; city attorney issues opinion that city can install sidewalks without permission
BY REBECCA BENNETT — On March 21, the Hyattsville City Council voted to adopt a new sidewalk policy after concerns were raised about the application of the original 2006 sidewalk policy.
One of the major changes to the policy include specifically stipulating that new sidewalks should be paid with city funds (not a special assessment of adjacent property owners). The policy lays out several criteria for which the city may forego sidewalks in a particular location, which takes into consideration right-of-way, stormwater management, tree canopy and other concerns. It also puts into writing the process for residents to petition for sidewalk installation, maintenance and removal.
Councilmember Tom Wright (Ward 3) said he hoped council action on the sidewalk policy would have occurred after the Wednesday, March 23 University Hills community meeting to discuss the sidewalk policy.
On Dec. 4, the question was raised as to whether or not the city had violated its own charter by installing sidewalks in University Hills. The city attorney, Richard Colaresi, was asked to review Articles 7 and 8 of the city charter to determine if the installation of sidewalks by the city required consent of the adjacent landowners. On March 7, Colaresi issued a legal opinion that the city does not have to obtain permission from residents to install sidewalks. The council discussed updating the charter at some point in the future to be more clear.