Sandy Springs’ single-family homeowners are off the hook for building new sidewalks in front of their houses for now—and maybe for good, as the city considers ways to pay for such projects out of municipal coffers.

In its quest to create sidewalks in a suburban city, the City Council has repeatedly tweaked a policy that requires certain redevelopments to pay for new sidewalks. The latest revision in September required builders of single-family homes located on a Sidewalk Master Plan to either build sidewalks or pay into a city construction fund at a rate of $100 per foot of street frontage. Builders also could request a waiver for “hardships.”

Since then, there has been a large number of waiver requests, and the buy-out fee may have been unintentionally calculated higher than necessary, city officials said at the Jan. 5 City Council meeting. Meanwhile, the city is considering raising its impact fees on large developments, and those funds could go to sidewalk construction.

Given those factors, the council decided to suspend the sidewalk requirement for infill-type single-family home projects at least until the impact fee revision is done this summer. “If we get to the point where the city funds sidewalks, that would be a good thing,” said City Councilman Andy Bauman.

The sidewalk construction requirement still applies to other developments, including multi-family, commercial and entire new subdivisions of single-family homes.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.