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Homeowners apparently will be forced to pay the city to rip up their front yards and install sidewalks under a proposal in Grand Forks, N.D.
“Sidewalks aren’t protestable,” City Council President Dana Sande told The Grand Forks Herald. “So once the city determines that the sidewalks should go into your neighborhood, you have one of three options: you can either put the sidewalk in yourself, you can hire a contractor to put it in, or you can have the city hire a contractor to put them in and be special assessed the fee. There are no other options.”
The council is requiring all homeowners to put in sidewalks in a plan to make Grand Forks “more connected,” The Herald reported. The sidewalk requirement has been on the books for many years but a previous council granted some homeowners a 10-year exemption. The present council has decided not to honor that provision.
“They’re just automatically going to do it and automatically put it on our specials and we’re just going to have to pay for it, so we don’t have a say,” homeowner Jared Johnson told WDAZ-TV.
Johnson estimates the sidewalk he does not want would cost $8,500. That would add about $100 a month to his property tax bill.
No Choice: Put in Sidewalk or Else
Residents have no choice.
“They were granted a 10-year extension, so other neighborhoods could come and ask the same thing,” Sande said. “I would doubt the city would have much appetite for offering extensions for sidewalks, though, because, again, sidewalks are about community.”
That means property owners like Johnson will see a higher tax bill and lose part of their property. Around half of Johnson’s neighbors have signed a petition against sidewalks.
“It’ll be a foot off of our property marker up on the corner, then it’ll cut across here in the driveway which will take away a lot of our driveway space, unfortunately,” Johnson said.
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