A group of unhappy residents made their opinions known about the ongoing sidewalk inspections at the Red Hill Borough Council's regular meeting July 9.
Property owners from Eighth and Second streets came out to protest and question the repairs that were mandated as a result of the inspections. The Eighth Street residents insisted that it was not the sidewalks, but the road not being sealed at the curb, that resulted in the curb raising up. The Eighth Street residents were adamant that they should not have to repair their sidewalks until the street is fixed, but funds have already been allocated for 2014 road work.
"We did five streets this spring," Council President Tom Paul noted, adding that there are no more plans for repairs in 2014.
"We have to be very frugal with the money we bring in," he added.
Addressing residents' complaints about their obligation to repair sidewalks that adjoin their properties and the standards that the repairs must now meet, Paul said, "Our ordinance for sidewalks has changed drastically since most of us have been on council." He continued, "The homeowner is responsible for sidewalks."
Engineer Ryan Kern confirmed Paul's statement: "It's the state code."
Because of potential problems with Eighth Street in particular, the council voted that the inspection letters for the Eighth Street property owners be held in abeyance until the engineer is able to look at the street.
In regard to Second Street complaints, Kern said, "The majority of west Second Street sidewalks are depressed below the curb." This issue creates a tripping hazard for pedestrians.
Residents further complained about curb damage that they believed was caused by snowplows or motorists running into the curbs.
"If you report someone runs into your curb, then we'll fix it," said Mayor Dave Schiffgens. Paul confirmed this, reporting that the borough had paid for a yard damaged by a snowplow.
Solicitor Mark Hosterman noted that damage from snowplows was unlikely. "We don't even plow curb-to-curb anymore," he said.
Schiffgens warned property owners whose sidewalks had not yet been inspected to prepare themselves so they do not have surprises should repairs need to be done. "All the people on Third Street should be looking at [their] sidewalks today, not when they get a letter."
"If you see your property is in disrepair, it's your obligation to repair it," he said.
In zoning news, solicitor Hosterman presented an ordinance for adoption on the amended sign ordinance to include illuminated signs. The council approved the ordinance. Interested persons wishing to know more about this ordinance should visit the borough code page at www.redhillborough.org/government/borough-code.
Hosterman also made recommendations for the use of municipal chambers by the general public. He said that the chambers should be used for special events only, so that the building does not take on the identity of a specific group.
He also advocated that the offices be locked. "I think it's important that the integrity of borough records are not compromised," Hosterman stated.