The sidewalk issue — involving a lack of them in certain portions of the city — was brought to the spotlight as a safety issue late last year by Utilities and Streets Committee Chairman and Shelby City Councilman Nathan Martin. The sidewalk issue later was brought to the attention of Shelby City Council’s Public Works and General Operations Committee in February and surfaced at Shelby’s Board of Park Commissioners meeting in March.
At the March 23 Public Works and General Operations Committee meeting, city Project Coordinator Joe Gies provided an update based on his research of how the issue was handled in years past and the Planning Commission having the ability to waive sidewalk requirements.
“The developer went to the Planning Commission pled their case about not putting sidewalks in, and the Planning Commission waived it every single time,” Gies said in sharing his research and in citing an example. “That was way before my (time with the city), and that is what I was told.”
Committee Chairman and Shelby City Councilman Charles Roub asked about the existence of any meeting minutes from the Planning Commission at the time or a meeting agenda that showed action had been taken in the past.
“I know it’s probably going to come up at some point,” Roub said in asking about the documentation.
The location of the documentation was not immediately known.
Going forward, Gies reported positive signs on the issue.
“We’ve got two new houses on Glenwood (Drive) and one on Technology (Parkway) being built this year,” he told the committee. “They’ve all been informed they have to put sidewalks in.”
“The Planning Commission at that time, I was here for that when they approved that, it was sidewalks will go in,” Gies added. “It was at the time when the house is built.”
He said he had spoken to other cities, “and that is exactly how they do it" in terms of the timing of sidewalk installation.
“Because if you go in there and have the developer put a sidewalk all the way down in there, you don’t know where the driveways are going to be, and then they (sidewalks) just get destroyed when the house is being built,” Gies added.
Councilman Roub offered similar sentiments. “You have that out on Cross Country and at Sunset,” he said in mentioning two streets. “You get complaints all of the time. There’s driveway cuts out there that are not in the right places, and you try and patch them, and the patchwork gets knocked loose. It doesn’t work out.”
In a separate housing update, Gies reported that the Shelby Community Reinvestment Area Housing Council (CRAHC) had met earlier in the day.
“Just to report, there’s four new houses scheduled to be built in 2021 so far,” Gies told the committee. “Hopefully more.”
After the meeting, Gies explained the significance.
“What the city has is an incentive to build new houses inside the city,” he said. “If they build a new house, they get 50 percent of the taxes — just on the building only — abated for 15 years.”
The Shelby Community Reinvestment Area Housing Council meets every year.
He also spoke of that program assisting with housing additions or similar-type projects.
“If a house is worth $100,000, and you put a big addition on, your house is worth now $150,000, you only pay taxes on $100,000 for 10 years,” Gies said. “That is citywide.”
Three of the four new Shelby houses being built so far in 2021 are in the Wolf Run subdivision, and the fourth is off Glenwood.
Also at the meeting, Gies previewed documents — heading to Shelby City Council — that would authorize Shelby’s mayor to issue revocable permits to occupy the right-of-way in the Shelby streetscape project.
This issue involves addressing existing items such as various building awnings, an air conditioning unit, a sign and clock outside The Vault Wine Bar, other downtown area signage and a light pole foundation/bollard along Broadway.
In all, about 13 properties are involved, including Shelby City Hall. The locations are along Main Street, Broadway and Mansfield Avenue, according to a document presented to the committee.
“The awnings are out into the right-of-way and so forth,” Gies said after the meeting. “With the Federal Highway (Administration) in the project area, the Federal Highway Administration’s rules, they do not anything encroaching in the right-of-way unless the city gives them a permit to do it. This is the permit process.”
In other business, Gies provided a parks-related update to the committee.
“We do have requests for qualifications statements from engineering firms for the Black Fork Commons area (with) the combination of the city and CIC (Community Improvement Corporation of Shelby) funding of the new improvements over there. It’s due on April 1.”
“Engineers basically submit their qualifications on their ability to do a project like this based on the criteria that we sent out,” Gies told the committee. “Then we grade those based on that criteria. Then you go to that firm and start negotiating a contract.”
Also at the meeting, Gies provided an update involving the recently completed demolition of the old outbuildings at Shelby's light plant site off Mansfield Avenue. The area also was known as the old drive-thru and ice plant location.
“Numerous large sections of the foundation, the size of a small size car, was unearthed during the excavation work,” John Ensman, Shelby's municipal utilities director and deputy director of public service, told Shelby City Council's Utilities and Streets Committee in February.
"Additional work was required to assist with the unexpected excavation, break up, and disposal of extremely large sections of the concrete foundation from the former ice plant building," Ensman added.
As a result of the find, a change-order was planned in the demolition contract to account for the extra work.
“We’re trying to get a final meeting with the contractor,” Gies said in his March 23 remarks. “We’re going to get things finalized, get the change-order done and get that project over with.”
The demolition project had started in December.