Denver resident requests sidewalk ordinance variance

By on August 1, 2018

Denver council reaffirmed commitment to its borough sidewalk ordinance despite continued reluctance by a home owner at the corner of East Lancaster Avenue and Jefferson Avenue. Council granted a sidewalk completion date extension from Aug. 1 until Oct. 15.

The extension allows time for the homeowner to install sidewalks after the borough completes installation of ADA ramps at his intersection in mid-September.

Attorney Gary Krafft represented homeowner, Rick Stehr, at council’s Monday, July 30 meeting. Krafft said it seems there’s no real reason to require sidewalks on East Lancaster Avenue when few, if any people, walk to The Garden at Stevens facility next to Stehr’s property at 318 E. Lancaster Avenue.

Krafft said Stehr doesn’t object to putting sidewalk on the Jefferson Avenue side of his property, as the homeowner understands Jefferson Avenue is an established residential neighborhood.

After much discussion, and Stehr also speaking to the same points, Blake Daub, council president, said it was the wisdom of the borough at some point in the past to decide that, for the safety of pedestrians of all ages, sidewalks would be installed.

Daub’s comments echoed council’s sentiments.

At one point, Krafft said it appeared discriminatory to not require people on the other side of East Lancaster Avenue to install sidewalks. On the other side of the street is a church, and Krafft assumed that some of the neighborhood children might walk to church or to Vacation Bible School.

Councilman Todd Stewart responded that it is discriminatory to allow people to not put in sidewalks, when everyone else in Denver complied with sidewalks ordinance.

Daub assured Krafft that council’s goal is to have sidewalks installed throughout the borough, including the other side of Lancaster Avenue. No phase-in timeline was discussed to accomplish that.
This sidewalk issue goes back to Feb. 27, when Stehr purchased the property at a public sale. He received written notice at the time of the sale of council’s action that required sidewalk installation on Jefferson and E. Lancaster Avenues.

On Oct. 30, 2017, council discussed Stehr’s request to install just the Jefferson Avenue sidewalk with a different attorney. Council did not change the sidewalk requirements and set an Aug. 1, deadline for compliance.

On Nov. 1, the borough emailed Stehr to tell him that W. Lancaster Avenue is a state road, so a Highway Occupancy Permit (HOP) from PennDOT may be required. The borough again reminded Stehr of this requirement in the spring of 2018, and also said Denver would be installing ADA ramps at his intersection in mid-September. Stehr then said he didn’t want to install sidewalks until after the ADA ramp construction. Borough Manager, Mike Hession, told Stehr he’d put him on council’s agenda to request an extension.

In other business, council:
• Approved $2,565 to replace a section of concrete slab at Denver Memorial Park’s kitchen pavilion.
• Approved starting the process for a handicapped parking space at 517 Locust St. Council approved Shannon Flanigan’s handicapped parking application for her mother-in-law, who resides with her.
• Adopted a resolution appointing Michael E. Gable, an Ephrata Township resident, as part-time Housing and Code Inspector for the borough.

Alice Hummer is a correspondent for the Ephrata Review.

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