Alabaster sidewalk ordinance makes homeowners responsible for repairs

Alabaster may have started something big. And something that will end up costing homeowners. Alabaster is the first city in the metro area to put an ordinance on the books that lays out how and why homeowners are responsible for the upkeep of the sidewalk in front of their house.

Truthfully, it's a state law, but one that must have a local ordinance before it can be enforced. Some homeowners in alabaster aren't sure about what this new ordinance will mean for their pocketbooks. Many of them are concerned about the liability attached to this. And some say they don't want to be responsible for repairs that are not their fault.

"Who's going to assume liability in the instance of an unfortunate incident?," said Bobby Harris, a resident of Ironwood subdivision in Alabaster.

He says he's not opposed to the new sidewalk ordinance, but there are legitimate liability concerns among his neighbors. {} "We were told by the city attorney last night that the homeowner would assume responsibility," said Harris.

But councilwoman Sophie Martin says homeowners can take action if they do not believe they are responsible. "One reason we were all comfortable with this ordinance is because we do have an appeals process in place to protect the homeowner," said Martin.

Here's how the appeal process works:{} If a homeowner does not believe he is responsible for sidewalk damages, the homeowner can fill out appeal documents at city hall. From there, a public hearing will be scheduled. The council would make a final decision.

Harris says there are benefits to the ordinance. "When there are individuals who don't keep their property up I do believe there must be a channel to request those homeowners to bring their properties up to standards," said Harris.

Martin says the decision has less to do with aesthetics, and more to do with tax dollars. "Cause a lot of times the same repairs are being done over and over again to that same area where that problem could be prevented by the homeowner, and so the same tax payer money is being used to repair that problem. But this will take care of that," said Martin.