City sidewalk debate continues

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - During Tuesday night's Metropolitan Area Planning Commission meeting, several residents continued the debate on proposed changes to an ordinance for city sidewalks.

This ordinance would require all developers, including those for industrial, commercial and subdivision developments to either construct sidewalks or pay a fee in lieu of that construction.

That money would go to a sidewalk fund to be used at the discretion of the city for the maintenance and installation of sidewalks.

That fact alone concerned many developers in attendance.

"I'm all for sidewalks but to require us to pay for them is not right," said one developer. "And I don't see why I should pay a fee for something I don't have a say in. Like why can't the money I pay for the fee go to a sidewalk around what I build?"

However, many citizens in attendance were for the changes to the sidewalk ordinance.

"Sidewalks are a necessity for safety and they're also a health benefit," said one citizen.

Both sides agreed that more sidewalks are needed in Jonesboro, but their differences led to passionate views on the opposite ends of the spectrum.

"The developers who are having to pay the bill look at it from one aspect," said Derrel Smith, the planning director. "Then you have the people using the sidewalks looking at it from a safety perspective. Who is going to pay for this? How they are going to pay for this?"

In the end, the commission voted to form a committee that would include people from all sides, both developers and citizens, to look at the sidewalk issue and come back in three months for review.

Until then, the commission is asking that if you are interested in participating on this committee, to send your information to the planning department where Mayor Harold Perrin will look at it to make a selection.

Smith said he hopes that a decision will be made soon so this issue can be put to rest.

"I'd like to see Jonesboro with a better sidewalk ordinance where our city will have more connectivity," said Smith.

Also in the meeting, the MAPC gave approval to numerous subdivisions across Jonesboro, including one that started as a controversial rezoning case.

This case involves the piece of land on Aggie Road which went to court twice after a circuit court judge ruled the city council acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" in their rezoning denial.

Though the MAPC approved preliminary plans for the subdivision, the city council must still do the same.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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