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Q: If Hellertown owns five feet from the curb, why are we the homeowner responsible for paying to put in sidewalks? -Mark C.
Answer (by Hellertown zoning and codes enforcement officer Kris Russo):
“This subject comes up quite often. To clarify, the owner of the property actually owns from the curb back. The five feet your reader is referring to is what’s known as a public right of way. In most cases, the right of way includes the public street and sidewalks that are used for movement of car and pedestrian traffic. Because the sidewalks are public and included in the right of way width, there are ordinances that regulate this area to ensure the health, safety and welfare of movement along these areas.”
Russo shared a link to the Hellertown borough code, Art. III, Chapter 385: Streets and Sidewalks, which includes information about property owners’ responsibility for curbs, sidewalks, driveway aprons and the like. It states:
“Every owner of property abutting upon any public street or alley, and along private roads within residential developments and subdivisions, shall be required, after notice given as herein provided, to construct a concrete curb, sidewalk, handicap ramps, and driveway apron, or any of them, adjacent to their property or properties in accordance with the grade and line established or to be established by the Borough Engineer or the Borough Codes Office. Locations where existing conditions limit the ability to install sidewalks, partial or complete, shall be exempted from installing sidewalks at the sole and absolute discretion of the Borough Council. The cost of constructing said curb, sidewalk, handicap ramps, and driveway apron, or any of them, shall be paid in each and every case by the owner of the property affected.”
For further information about the borough sidewalk ordinance, click here.