Resident removes sidewalk, city wants it back
"Our kids play out in the front yard. My husband and my son play football, neighborhood kids play over here." Lisa Bellwin told NewsCentral.
Bellwin says her family uses their front yard more than most families.
"We come out here and have coffee in the mornings. We come out and have breakfast in the mornings and have dinner sometimes at night out here."
Therefore, Bellwin, with the help of a professional landscaper, put in a lot of work into renovating what she calls another room to her home.
"I've received many compliments on how nice it looks," said Bellwin.
No matter how nice it looks, the city of Forsyth says its missing something that's supposed to be there.
"Over the years, it had just become uneven, it had buckled and it had crumbled in areas as well," said Bellwin.
Bellwin is referring to the sidewalk she removed from in front of her home. She said no one used the sidewalk, especially since it ended at the lower trunk of a dying oak tree half way across her yard.
The removal of the sidewalk goes against Section 21-2 of the City of Forsyth legislature, and therefore the city wants the sidewalk to be replaced.
"My sidewalk was never used," said Bellwin. "Everyone in my neighborhood used the street."
Bellwin said she, before removing the sidewalk, took a copy of her landscape plan to city hall to see how to go about getting it approved.
"I was only told it had to go before the design review board for approval and it may take up to three weeks to get an answer," said Bellwin.
Six weeks and numerous unreturned phone calls later, Bellwin decided to move forward with her plans.
"The people were ready to start on the landscape job on my property," said Bellwin. "So I just decided to move forward and part of that was taking up the sidewalk."
Now, progress on further improvements to her landscape are on hold as she may have to reinsert a sidewalk that leads to nowhere.
"Do I want to put it back? No. Do I think it will look good? No," said Bellwin. "But I will comply."
Bellwin applied for a variance but her request was denied.
Bellwin said she was told that if they allow her to keep her yard the way it is, it would cause a chain reaction of residents trying to remove unwanted city property without following the proper procedure.