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Iowa Code § 364.12(2)(d) and City Ordinance 47 provide the City of University Heights the ability to require that the maintenance and repair of public sidewalk be the responsibility of the abutting property owner. If property owners fail to complete the required repairs, the City is empowered to repair sidewalks and assess the cost as additional property tax.
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The city has been divided into 3 geographical areas. In fall of 2014, the South East area was inspected. The South West area was inspected in fall of 2015, and the north area in fall of 2016. All three areas were inspected the first three years to get needed sidewalk repairs up to date throughout the city. One area will be inspected every two years, putting the city on a schedule to have each area inspected every 6 years. If a complaint is received on the condition of a sidewalk, an inspection will be made.
View a map of the area (PDF).
No, a permit is not required to conduct sidewalk repairs once they have been inspected. The notification letter is considered your construction permit and there are no permitting fees.
The University Heights City Council will give property owners the opportunity to join together and jointly hire one contractor (through the City) to make repairs. By having one contractor repair multiple sidewalks, the City hopes to obtain a competitive cost. The deadline date to join the City administered sidewalk repair project will be listed in the notification letter sent to the property owner.
Because there will be a new contract during each repair cycle, the construction cost is not known in advance. An inventory is made of those who choose to include their repairs in the City administered repair project and bids are solicited from contractors to repair those sidewalks. Depending on the lowest responsible bid received, the City will charge the property owner the costs incurred by the contractor, plus a $100 administrative fee per property.
The City will only remove and replace sidewalk squares if the City takes charge of the repair work. Therefore, if you desire to utilize an allowable repair option other than removal and replacement, you will need to arrange for the work.
For property owners who prefer to perform or coordinate repairs on their own, the notification letter sent to the property owner will list the deadline date to have these repairs completed. After the repair deadline, sidewalks marked for repair will again be inspected. If no attempt was made to repair the sidewalk, or if unsatisfactory repairs are not corrected, the City will arrange for the repair work to be completed. In this instance, it is possible that both construction and administrative costs may be higher than the City administered repair project, and the adjoining property owner will be invoiced for all such costs.
There is no additional penalty for not completing the repairs by the deadline.
This administrative fee is only charged if the City completes the sidewalk repair work. The administrative fee helps to cover a portion of the costs the City incurs for bidding a contract, hiring a contractor, providing inspection of the work, and other overhead costs associated with the sidewalk repair process.
The City will first invoice the property owner for the costs incurred and the administrative fee. Only if the invoice is not paid will the property be assessed and the costs added to property taxes.
It would be appreciated if repairs were completed as soon as possible in order to provide a safe passageway for pedestrians, however, deadlines are established and given in the notification letter. Typically, sidewalks marked as part of the inspection program are identified in the fall with a deadline for completion of repairs the following summer. If a sidewalk is marked from a complaint, the date for completion of repairs will be provided in the notification letter, allowing for at least 30 days to complete the repair work. Please note that once the sidewalk has been removed, the repair work must be completed within 2 weeks.
Depending on the reason the City is responsible for the repairs, it may be possible to repair all of them and be reimbursed by the City for the squares that were marked City responsible. Please notify the City Engineer at 319-354-3040 to coordinate. Prior approval of the scope and type of repair, as well as costs, is required before any work commences on sidewalk panels that are City responsibility.
Absolutely. The City only marks the minimum number of squares to eliminate hazards. You may have additional squares that are in a marginal condition that you may want to repair, or you may find it is in your best interest to replace entire segments of sidewalk rather than doing spot repairs.
The City cannot recommend or favor any particular contractor. The City does not require that the contractors be licensed and therefore does not have an approved contractor list.
If you have the ability to complete the repairs to the City’s specifications, you may complete the repair work yourself. View the Sidewalk Repair Specification and Details (PDF).
The City does not require that the forms and grade be inspected. However, if you desire, an inspection can be made after the forms are set and prior to the concrete being poured if arrangements are made at least 48 hours in advance.
Acceptable methods depend on the repair type marked on the inspection report. The Sidewalk Repair Specification and Details (PDF) outline the allowable repair methods. The recommended repair method is removal and replacement for all types; however, other options are as follows:
Please call the City Engineer at 319-354-3040 to let us know so that we may evaluate the location of the marked squares. If the square(s) is adjoining your neighbor's property, they will need to receive the proper notification of the needed repairs. There may be sidewalk squares in need of repair stretching across the side property line. In this case, residents will need to coordinate with their neighbor to work out the repair cost portion for each property.
Yes, if you recently sold the property the records may not have been updated at the Johnson County Recorder's office yet. By notifying the City of the recent sale, we can make sure that the correct property owner is notified.
If you believe the squares marked adjacent to your property do not meet the criteria established on the inspection form or that it would be preferable to repair the adjoining square, please call the City Engineer at 319-354-3040. A second opinion of the need for repairs may be requested, at which time the City will have a different inspector look at the sidewalk and evaluate it for meeting the criteria.
The City tries to be as fair and as consistent as possible when marking sidewalk squares for repair. If a complaint is received on a property, only that property and property in the immediate vicinity are inspected. If you believe we missed some sidewalk needing repair, or there is sidewalk in another area of your neighborhood that is also needing repair work, please call the City Engineer at 319-354-3040 with the addresses to initiate inspections of those sidewalks.
Notification is not necessary. The City will automatically re-inspect the sidewalks marked for repair after the deadline stated in your notification letter. If you would like to know if the repair work is satisfactory because you want to make sure your contractor performed acceptable work prior to paying them, you may ask the City to complete an early re-inspection.