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What you need to know for 02/26/2017

Paved with good intentions

Paved with good intentions

City going too far with $50 permit fee, strict rules

Paving contractors who do business in Schenectady are up in arms over a new requirement that they get a $50 permit for any paving job over 25 square feet. But it’s property owners who ought to be mad: As city engineer Chris Wallin pointed out, the contractors will simply pass the cost on to their customers.

And what’s that permit fee for? Basically, to ensure that contractors “follow the rules,” which means they don’t pave over any customers’ lawns (even if they’re asked to) and don’t pave over any concrete sidewalks — both of which are verboten under city codes.

Indeed, they aren’t unreasonable restrictions, either for aesthetic or drainage concerns, but $50 seems more than a bit steep. How about cutting the price in half?

Far less reasonable is the law’s provision that contractors are obligated to dig out any asphalt that may have been placed over a concrete sidewalk in the past. That seems like an outrageously expensive and unfair proposition, especially given that today’s homeowner might not have even lived in the house when a previous owner broke the law. (Or was the law even on the books when the sidewalk got paved over?)

Another rub: Does the city follow its own rules regarding pave-overs? It certainly seems that a number of the holes that have formed in its decorative crosswalks, whether because of lost pavers or cracks, have gotten filled with asphalt and other material that doesn’t match the original. So it seems hypocritical for the city to insist that homeowners adhere to this policy, at least as it pertains to old paving jobs.

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