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LaGrange changes driveway regulations to limit liability

The LaGrange City Council unanimously passed an amendment to its regulations concerning curb cuts and driveways that lie in the city right-of-way at its Tuesday night meeting.

Under the new ordinance, the city will “repair or replace any driveway damaged or required to be relocated due to a city road or utility maintenance issue; however, the obligation of the city shall be limited to a driveway meeting the minimum customary specifications required by applicable regulations, and will not include replacement or repair of upgrades or other hardscape or landscaping which has been constructed within the right-of-way by the property owner.”

In other words, the city will repair a driveway to the level of a basic concrete or asphalt driveway, but not beyond that. Work in the city right-of-way may include repairing underground utility infrastructure or building a sidewalk.

Previously, the ordinance did not address this issue. However the city’s practice was to repair portions of curb cuts or driveways to their previous condition if they were disturbed by the city. 

The issue came up in July when residents of Gordon Street opposed a proposal to build a sidewalk, partially on the grounds that the sidewalk would interfere with an expensive driveway enhancement that was being built by a homeowner. 

The council ultimately rejected the request to build the sidewalk, but if they had not, the city would have had to decide whether or not to repair the enhancements. 

Mayor Jim Thornton wanted the city to have an ordinance specifying the city’s obligation.

“Whether it’s a requirement or not, historically speaking, the city puts it back the way we found it. And that’s always worked when people had asphalt driveways and zoysia sod,” LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said at a Sept. 8 work session. “But if someone’s going to build … bluestone pavers and Italian marble and all that sort of thing, the city can’t be expected to build something to that standard.”

City Attorney Jeff Todd wrote the amendment.

In other business, the city approved $600,000 in hazard pay to city workers for their service to the city during the pandemic.

The council also unanimously passed a resolution to accept Mill Creek Parkway as a city road, and conducted a first reading to name the road as such. The road, already constructed by a developer, runs between Hogansville Road and South Davis Road as part of the new The Yard on Mill Apartments.

The council passed motions scheduling public hearings on Oct. 13 for two items — one concerns rezoning a portion of Hunnicutt Avenue to facilitate construction on The Thread, the other would add farm winery as a principle use to general commercial zoning in order for Wild Leap Brew Co. to manufacture wine.

Finally, the council authorized the mayor and clerk to execute an intergovernmental contract with the Development Authority of LaGrange. The contract is part of the city’s sale of a piece of property adjacent to Upper Big Springs Road that will be developed for industrial use.