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Abilene Planning & Zoning Commission endorses changes to sidewalk ordinance

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Jan 08 2014 09:41:14 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 09 2014 12:54:47 PM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

The issue of where to require sidewalks in Abilene has been a hot topic for years.

On Monday, Planning and Zoning Commissioners voted to change the sidewalk ordinance again.

"It's the big question is as a city what do we want to be where do we want to be in terms of sidewalks," said Jon James, the city's director of Planning and Development Services.

Originally, Planning and Zoning Commissioners voted to require sidewalks at all new developments as part of a new Land Development Code. They thought that would help make Abilene a more pedestrian friendly city.

"We were the only city our size in the state that did not require sidewalks on new developments," James said.

After several sidewalk waivers were given, commissioners decided to take another look at the issue.

"Now we're really going through a process where we're looking at is that the right answer, did we go too far and should we back off of where we require sidewalks a little bit?" James said.

Where do commissioners think sidewalks should be required?

"Major streets rather than minor streets, as well as areas where we know there's a lot of pedestrian opportunities, in parks and schools and near residential neighborhoods," said James.

Where should developers get to decide for themselves? 

"The biggest change they recommended yesterday was making new single-family home subdivisions making sidewalks optional on the local streets," James said.

Now that the proposal has been approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission the City Council will discuss it.

Commissioners also want to come up with a map that would specify where sidewalks are required and where they aren't.