City councilman Joe Hafner is presenting a sidewalk ordinance this year, that if passed will require that all new commercial and residential constructions in Jonesboro include a sidewalk. Hafner's hope is that it will improve mobility for pedestrians traveling to and around the city.
"Walkability is important and connectivity is important," states Hafner. "Not only from an economic development standpoint. People want to move to cities where they're going to feel safe. And where they can be healthy. If you have one person getting hit because they're walking out in the road, and there's no sidewalk, that's one too many. And we've had fatalities."
Jonesboro city officials originally proposed the sidewalk ordinance to the Jonesboro Metropolitan Area Planning Commission last year. However it was voted down. Largely due to developer concerns over rising property costs.
"Right now commercial and multi-family are required to build sidewalks in the existing ordinance," says city planner Derrel Smith. "[The ordinance] will require it to go to residential also."
Ambiguity over lot prices and typography are weighing into the ordinance. Derrel Smith says it could cost developers between $1600 and $1900 to add the sidewalks to new residences. And that cost will also shift to new home buyers. However Hafner isn't putting a price tag on safety.
"Sidewalk ordinances are not a new thing," adds Hafner. "I know change is hard, but I'm hoping we can all look back on this in a few years, and say that sidewalks made a tremendous positive impact."
The ordinance has to be voted through three city council hearings before it can be passed as a law. It could be mid-summer or later before the changes hit the pavements.