A week or so ago I was walking from Bradley’s Hardware to the Post Office via the back way. There was a nice new table on the new sidewalk bumpout outside Crepes Ohh La La, and I couldn’t help wonder how long that was going to last. Not very as it turns out. Seems there were a few complaints and so the Selectmen decided to make it an issue at last Wednesday’s meeting. Chairman Murray conducted a little private hearing where they had Dave Ford tell us it was public property, then the Chairman told us how she would rather see a 24/7 public bench or table and that she would prefer “wrought iron”. Dave mentioned in passing that the sidewalk belonged to the business. The Selectmen were indignant. Mr. Bowers indicated it was a clear abuse of public property and that there was no need for further discussion. Ms. Silk was concerned that the town might get sued if the umbrella were to get blown by the wind and hurt someone.
Nobody asked the people who own the business – turns out they were right there in the gallery. Someone had given them a heads up that their table was on the agenda.
At the end of the meeting, a fellow got up during public comment and identified himself as Rick Eaton, representing Crepes Ohh La La. He told the Selectmen that the sidewalk in front of the place belongs to them and that rather than put the table in the sidewalk, it seemed to be less of an obstruction on the bump-out. Nevertheless, he said, they would move it and their planters back to their property.
That’s a bike week tourist. When I told him the story, he wanted to be in the blog. The table used to be out of the way to his left before the town decided they had to move it. Some people might recall there was a smaller table against the building last year. The planters mark the edge of the business’ property.
After making his point, Mr. Eaton told the Selectmen that he felt they were being singled out for enforcement, and proceeded to present photos and documentation of various business violations in town: Bradles Hardware (all that stuff piled up to the right in the photo is on town property), Sal’s Sunoco, Bailey’s Bubble. Mr. Owen was directed to follow up on it, so we should be seeing some controversy in the coming months similar to the sign ordinance debacle a few years ago.
I guess I am confused old duffer. The sidewalk belongs to the business? If so did they pay for their footage of the new concrete and granite? Bet they didn’t. Just like Shop and Save didn’t pay for all that improvement to the catch basin and such in their parking lot. And how about those granite planters at Sal’s and the market? Paid for with our taxes, nothing from the merchants I wager. When we did the last Master Plan, the subject of commercial owners paying for such improvements came up and was summarily dismissed by our erstwhile town planner. And let’s talk about ADA. I mentioned before the stuff at Bradley’s intrudes on the sidewalk which, if I remember right has to have a 48″ unobstructed right away to allow two disabled people to pass in wheelchairs. In the above picture, that sure doesn’t look ADA compliant. Who the hell is in charge of this circus anyway?
My understanding is that the business rents the unit, so they have nothing to do with who pays for the improvements. Let’s be clear, the whole project is for the benefit of the downtown merchants. They are getting some of their utility burying that the voters rejected a few years ago, and several businesses got all or part of their sidewalks rebuilt. The town knew that sidewalk was on private property, and they certainly had enough room to put the new one completely on town property. They did not.
I think the project is a real improvement and I don’t begrudge any of the merchants for it. What the Crepes folks are saying is that there seems to be selective enforcement of the town codes and they feel they are being unfairly singled out. Based on what I’ve seen, I’m inclined to agree with them.
BTW/ Alex at Bradley’s told me that they paid for their sidewalk replacement a few years ago, and the portion that is being used for display is on their property.
Okay, then the question isn’t why didn’t the business owner pay, but rather why didn’t the building owner pay? And you last sentence in the first paragraph begs my question as to “Who is in charge” and why didn’t the Town take ADA into consideration and do what is suggested, put the new sidewalk totally on Town property and make it clear to everyone what the Federal ADA rules are?
That’s interesting then, from Alex’s statement it would leave one to believe that the Town portion of the sidewalk does not meet ADA. You have to consider the actual available right of way on the sidewalk. Get some pickups parked with wheel against the curbing which removes space with bumper overhang and then subtract what is apparently Bradley’s display area and it can get narrow there. If not why wasn’t it fixed while they were working on this project? Maybe they just want to have Hanson do all the leg work through the NH federal attorney’s office.
6/21/12 I question IF the property owner sidewalk is owned by them an then is private property,
are taxpayers paying to have them plowed, it is unlawful to expend tax dollars for private property
maintenance. Second why is the town not using the “betterment” form of paying for some of the
All good points, and the business owner is respecting and complying with the law, but to the guy’s original point: Yes, there are problems here that don’t conform to town code, but so too are there problems with the ten or so other violations by other businesses that he presented to the Selectmen. Why single them out? You will probably say that’s right, make them all comply. I’m just saying that the beehive is gonna be buzzing.