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Couple spends thousands repairing sidewalk

Posted January 9, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— A Raleigh couple has spent $2,600 fixing the sidewalk in front of their home after officials said the repairs were not the city’s responsibility.

Resident Melinda Pfeiffer said she had no idea that repairs to her sidewalk could be her financial responsibility to fix.

“I thought we were paying city taxes, so that the city could maintain that land,” Pfeiffer said.

Raleigh resident Melinda Pfeiffer paid $2,600 to have sidewalk r Sidewalk damage costly to residents

Pfeiffer said the problems began when a city employee knocked at her door.

“He said, ‘I am from the City of Raleigh, and we have had some complaints about your sidewalk, and you are going to have to get it fixed,’” Pfeiffer said.

Pfeiffer and her husband, John McWilliam, made their case to the City Council – to no avail.

“It is every property owner’s responsibility to maintain driveway and sidewalks along their property,” Raleigh Public Works Director Carl Dawson said.

Homeowners are responsible for everything behind the curb, Dawson said. Exceptions exist if the damage was caused by a tree close to the road or a utility.

“If there is some type of utility like a water meter problem that damages the sidewalk, then we will repair that at no cost to the property owner,” Dawson said.

Only cracks and holes that can cause a danger to others need to be repaired, Dawson said.

“There are property value benefits to having sidewalks, and not everybody has them. That is one of the reasons the property owner is in charge of maintaining them,” Dawson said.

City leaders say they only investigate sidewalks they have received complaints about. The city gets a complaint every month or two, Dawson said.

“If we find a problem, we write the property owner and give them 30 days to make the repairs,” Dawson said.

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