A change in the way home builders do business in Colleyville is expected to improve communication between home owners, builders and the city.In June, the city implemented a system in which builders must review and sign off on all city requirements and ordinances before being granted a permit to build.The change was made after the city recognized a reoccurring problem. Several home builders and homeowners complained about a 2009 city ordinance requiring mandatory sidewalks for all new homes and rebuilds.Property owners who did not want to build a sidewalk at the time of construction could choose to pay into an escrow fund that city officials said would be used to construct sidewalks within their area but not necessarily on their property.Several homeowners complained that they were unaware of the ordinance after builders neglected to construct sidewalks on their property. Sam Noel, founder and president of Monument Custom Builders, said he believes the change will help alleviate confusion between builders and homeowners.“I’ve been building for 20-25 years,” Noel told the Council at a June 18 meeting after several builders were denied a request to appeal the ordinance or related escrow payments. “These aren’t young companies that didn’t know any better. There’s a little blame to go around and we just need to get it right as we go forward.”Noel said he was not aware of the mandatory sidewalk requirement when he obtained a building permit and site plan for a current project and that no one from the city mentioned it.“It’s also incumbent on developers and builders to know what our ordinance and regulations are,” Mayor David Kelly countered.Ron Ruthven, Colleyville Community Development director, said the procedural change emphasizes the sidewalk requirement and makes it difficult to miss. On June 22, the city sent an email to general contractors reminding them of the mandatory sidewalk requirement, and included a copy of the city’s planned sidewalk map.“I’m a small businessman. It’s just me and my wife, and we don’t go through and read every document that we get out of these cities,” Noel said.“The City of Colleyville has always been a good place to build,” Noel said. “This is an unfortunate ordinance that we all missed and we just got to get it resolved the best way that everybody understands.”Policy not procedure is the problemColleyville resident Chris Putnam said the sidewalk problem won’t be resolved with a change in procedure.Putnam’s appeal for a refund of his escrow fee for his home on White Drive was denied.“The policy has to be changed. Period. It’s a bad policy that was implemented very poorly,” he said. “It’s the policy itself that’s the problem.”Putnam said the property owners who have to pay for the fee don’t want the sidewalks but are paying for them to fulfill a map created by the Sidewalks Committee in 2008. He added that on some properties, a sidewalk is impossible to build.“Individual residents are forced to build sidewalks because you have a map that says so,” he said.Putnam said he is circulating a petition opposing the sidewalk policy and would like to see the issue taken to the voters.The city plans to review the policy at a fall work session with the council.
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770 Twitter: @dussssstin