Is Abilene’s sidewalk ordinance being watered down by city council waivers?
Thursday, in a 4-3 vote Abilene City Council granted a sidewalk waiver to the Wylie Independent School District that will allow them to go without building a sidewalk at their new Early Childhood Center at Buffalo Bap and Antilley Road.
The council passed the sidewalk ordinance in 2006. It requires all new developments to include a sidewalk, but the council can grant a waiver if the developer can convince them a sidewalk is not needed. In this case Wylie ISD said the sidewalk could be dangerous.
"We felt like that just by the presence of sidewalks being there that four and five-year-olds would be encouraged to use them and that's a real high traffic street that are traveling at a high rate of speed... We just felt like it was a dangerous situation for kiddos of that age," said Wylie ISD Superintendent Joey Light.
Council members Joe Spano, Anthony Williams and Kellie Miller thought granting the waiver was not a good idea. They said it isn’t fair to grant Wylie a waiver and say no to other developers.
Kenneth Musgrave is a developer in Abilene, he said while sidewalks are sometimes a good idea, they aren't always.
"I don't think you can possibly have one law or any one ordinance that will fit every single case, it just doesn't work and they're trying to make this fit everything," Musgrave said.
However, several people in Abilene said there needs to be more sidewalks.
"I’m a cyclist and it bothers me a lot especially out in my area on the north side of town where the congestion has increased significantly," said Beth Shelton who has lived in Abilene for 30 years.
Two council members said they would like to revisit the entire sidewalk ordinance and possibly amend it.