Developer In-Lieu of Fee…Or, why this idea is not good for sidewalks in Nashville
As any Nashvillian knows, we are a growing city. Across the 10-county Cumberland Region around Nashville, the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) forecasts close to another million people by the year 2035. This equates to about another 100,000 people in Davidson Co alone.
When developers create in-fill in the Urban Services District - when they take one residentially zoned lot and subdivide it into 2 or more - they are (with a few exceptions) to build sidewalks.
I used to find these patches of 'sidewalks to nowhere' confusing - sort of ridiculous.
My thinking on these bits and pieces of sidewalk has completely changed after meeting with Public Works in May.
Public Works elevates a 'gap' in the sidewalk network above all else - even above the Sidewalk Priority Index (SPI) - when considering a sidewalk project.
Now, I LOVE these random sidewalks to nowhere!
Regrettably, developers can opt to pay into an 'in-lieu' fund - the so called Sidewalk Fund - at an outrageously discounted rate.
An average new sidewalk in Nashville cost $250 per linear foot.
A graphic version of this is below.
Established in 2002, the original developer in-lieu fee was $92 per linear foot in all cases. This fee was much less than the $250 per linear foot quoted as the average cost of a new sidewalk without any 'bells or whistles'. This fee, after a June 2012 Commission Meeting, was reduced drastically to $15 per linear foot.
Therefore, a developer is now required to pay 6% of the cost for a new sidewalk (at minimum) or pay for the entire cost of the sidewalk.
This collected fee is divvied up further - it can only be spent in the district is was collected (there are 13 total). In reality, partly because the fee is so markedly reduced in comparison to real costs, to date, no new sidewalks have been created with these monies (to be fair, the fee has supplemented projects).
If the goal in Nashville is to build new, high quality sidewalks - this in-lieu fee hasn't and isn't going to get us far.
The in-lieu fee has been in existence since 2002 and yet has not been able to collect enough to build one project. Is this fair to the citizens of Nasvhille?
Shade Parade Nashville & The Sidewalk Foundation strongly encourage you to persuade local developers in your neighborhood to NOT PAY THE IN-LIEU FEE BUT RATHER TO BUILD THE SIDEWALK REQUIRED.