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Residents along Bayside’s 215th Street said they have been getting slapped by the city with heavy fines for cracks on the sidewalks in front of their homes they say pose no danger to people on foot.
Judith Rouse, who lives on 215th Street near 15th Road in Bayside, said she and several of her neighbors have received fines from the city Department of Transportation that cite “broken” sidewalks that pose a “trip hazard.”
But Rouse, who received a violation dated Oct. 20, said she and her neighbors plan to contest the fines.
“There’s nothing wrong with the sidewalk,” she said. “There’s a miniscule crack in the seam. It doesn’t prevent walking. We’re all fighting it. No one is going to pay this.”
A letter to residents in the neighborhood from the DOT’s Office of Sidewalk Management states that “a property owner may be liable for any personal injury or property damage caused by the failure to maintain a sidewalk in a safe condition.”
Under a new program introduced last week by the DOT, property owners will be forced to obtain a permit and fix the sidewalks in front of their homes at their own expense within 45 days of receiving a notice from the city. The letter to 215th Street residents said the city would repair the sidewalks and bill the homeowners if the work were not completed in the required amount of time.
The current rate for sidewalk replacement for one- to three-family homes is $8.21 per square foot for a 4-inch-thick sidewalk or $9.49 per square foot for a 7-inch-thick sidewalk.
Rouse said she has been ordered to fix 52 feet of sidewalk and has received a bill for more than $500.
Josef and Tamar Fixler, who are Rouse’s neighbors, said the city has also sent them a letter, requiring them to patch up 106 square feet of sidewalk.
“It’s a small crack,” Tamar Fixler said. “Nobody could fall on it. The city has nothing to do but collect money from us. They claim it’s dangerous, but it’s not. If the sidewalk was in really bad condition, I’d understand.
“It’s funny that when there’s a tree uplifting a sidewalk, the city won’t fix it,” she said.
If a homeowner complains about the violation, the city will reinspect that person’s sidewalk within 30 days.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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