Property owners still responsible for driveway curb/gutter

SIDNEY — As first year of the city’s five-year street paving program gets underway this summer, Sidney City Council agreed Monday night that property owners still will be responsible for curb and gutter adjacent to their driveways.

“In preparing the final plans and specifications for the first year of the city’s paving program under the recently approved income tax, we have encountered a number of feet of curb and gutter that should be replaced,” Gary Clough, assistant city manager/public works director, said in his report to council. “Much of this curb and gutter that needs to be replaced is adjacent to private driveways that by code would require the abutting property owner to replace.

“Staff is bringing this issue to council for discussion as the code is clear but we feel we could have pushback from residents who just approved the income tax for road repairs and now are getting notices for additional costs for the curb and gutter repairs.”

Voters approved an addition to the city income tax for five years in November. The ballot language stipulated that revenue from the additional tax be used for street repair. The city has formulated a five-year plan to carry out those improvements.

In 2008, council adopted an ordinance requiring that street curb and gutter adjacent to driveways are the responsibility of the abutting property owner to keep in good repair and that all other street curb and gutter is the responsibility of the city to maintain. Prior to this ordinance, it was a property owner’s responsibility to maintain the entire curb and gutter abutting the property.

Mayor Mike Barhorst recalled there was “lively debate” when council considered the ordinance in 2008. He opposed the ordinance then and today felt the city should not go further. “I can’t see us assuming responsibility for more,” he said.

Clough said the options are to not require the replacement of the curb and gutter at this time (but this will be an issue throughout the next five years of the program); require repairs by the property owner and do an assessment program similar to the sidewalk program in advance of the paving program; or seek an amendment to the code or some type of a waiver for the duration of the enhanced paving program through the five-year income tax period.

Council agreed that property owners should continue to be responsible for curb and gutter abutting driveways, but should have the option of paying for the improvements through assessments.

Council also discussed the practicality of doing curb and gutter work before paving, rather than trying to put in new curb and gutter later.

Clough estimated it costs $20 to $30 per foot for curb and gutter.