Holland heated sidewalks: Some residents frustrated by fees

HOLLAND, Mich. -- New heated sidewalks in Holland are nearing completion, but it's not something everyone is warming up to.

Some homeowners are expressing frustration over having to pay yearly maintenance fees.   The 'Snowmelt' sidewalks are on Central Avenue from 12th to 21st Street.

They were approved more than a year ago, and should make life easier during the winter.  That convenience comes at a cost, though.

"Both the city and the residents had to come to an understanding of how it was going to be paid for," said Holland's Interim Downtown Development Authority Coordinator Amy Sasamoto.  "And the council came to the conclusion for this year and the next three years, they will assess them only on the driveway approaches."

Residents with driveways crossing the heated sidewalks will have to pay 42 cents per square foot on their driveway approaches.

"It averages down to those properties to about $100," Sasamoto said.  "Some as low as $30, some that will go up to $200."

One homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous, says he will pay close to $160 a year.  He wishes he had a choice in the matter.

"It would have been nice to be a little more upfront, to show a little more transparency," he said.

Other residents also shared frustration over the operating and maintenance fees.

"The only thing I don't agree with is they want to assess property owners and I think because everybody uses it that it should come out of the general tax fund," said LuAnn Athey.

City officials are hoping the benefits will outweigh the concerns.

"I think the true test will come after we have a couple of winters with the 'Snowmelt,'" said Sasamoto.

Construction on the new sidewalks will be finished before winter arrives, according to the DDA.  A public hearing on the assessment process for operation and maintenance of the heated sidewalks is scheduled for Wednesday.

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