The Shelton City Commission held a special meeting on December 12 to talk about frontage improvements. The city’s current Design & Construction Standards require developers to construct sidewalks when building on an infill lot, or improving a structure by more than 50% of its present value. The city, in turn, agrees to pay for the design and engineering for the sidewalk construction. However, the city failed to allocate funds for its end of the deal for 2015, citing a lack of revenue. The commission met, therefore, to discuss options for these frontage improvements moving forward.
At one end of the spectrum, the city could change the standards to hold the builder responsible for the entire cost of frontage improvements, including design and engineering. At the other end, the city could suspend the frontage improvement requirements altogether.
Seeking middle ground, the commissioners talked about completely exempting all rehabilitative projects (not just those that would add more than 50% of a property’s value), and requiring something less than a complete curb and sidewalk of other property developers, perhaps a paved parking strip or asphalt walkway.
There is something not quite right about a city in dire economic circumstances cutting its budget while requiring any builders whose projects could potentially improve the city’s economic situation to find room in their obviously-not-great budgets to pay for the sidewalks the city wants. And we’ll be watching to see if the city tries to pin the entire cost of a sidewalk onto a builder without amending the Design & Construction Standards first.
At any rate, city staff will be working on the details of a proposal that will require something of infill developers, but that will hopefully keep their costs down. Stay tuned for details.