The Prairie Village City Council on Monday tentatively approved a new city policy that will give homeowners along proposed new residential sidewalk routes the power to have such projects canceled.
Under the new policy, if 75 percent of the homeowners along a proposed sidewalk route petition the city against installation, the city won’t move forward with construction.
The council’s Committee of the Whole voted 7-5 to move the new policy to a final vote, which will be conducted at the City Council’s Tuesday, Sept. 4 meeting.
Councilors Brooke Morehead, David Morrison, Steve Noll, Ted Odell, Dale Warman and Ashley Weaver voted in favor of the new policy. Councilors David Belz, Charles Clark, Ruth Hopkins, Michael Kelly and Andrew Wang voted against it.
Since 2000, city policy has called for the installation of sidewalk on at least one side of all residential streets. But the council has obliged on several occasions to organized protest from neighborhoods that, for whatever reason, don’t want sidewalks built on their streets.
City project manager Keith Bredehoeft told the council the revised policy was designed to balance the importance of sidewalk construction to the overall walkability with the city with neighborhoods’ desires. Councilor Ted Odell, who helped devise the new policy, said it will give the council something it can stand behind — unlike the policy currently in place.
“We understand that there are situations where a sidewalk may not fit for a street, so we are trying to come up with a systematic approach,” he said. “But it would be detrimental to do away with sidewalk policy entirely — sidewalks are important to the community.”
But the dissenting councilors suggested that allowing a few residents to halt planned sidewalks wasn’t in the best interests of the city at large.
“I think the silent majority who were in the background when this came forward originally have spoken up,” said Hopkins. “I heard from a lot of people who were horrified at the idea that we wouldn’t continue to build sidewalks.”