Upper Arlington City Council agreed to pay the difference for the increased cost of a sidewalk on Suffolk Road, but an invalidated petition might make it unnecessary.

Upper Arlington City Council agreed to pay the difference for the increased cost of a sidewalk on Suffolk Road, but an invalidated petition might make it unnecessary.

Council held a special meeting following its regular council session May 21 and voted to include the construction of a sidewalk on Suffolk between Coventry and Andover roads in the city's 2012 Street Reconstruction Program, provided the project meets the "statutory requirements" of state law, according to the amended ordinance.

The sidewalk project stemmed from a resident-driven petition. In June 2010, 11 of the 16 property owners on that stretch of Suffolk signed a petition in favor of installing sidewalks. The Ohio Revised Code requires at least 60 percent of the affected property owners show support.

According city records, council unanimously passed a resolution Feb. 14, 2011, "declaring it necessary to install sidewalks on Suffolk Road." Meeting minutes indicate there were no questions or comments from the public.

According to the resolution, the cost of the project was projected to be $65,341 and that the entire cost was to be paid by special assessment on the listed property owners.

The project originally was set to proceed in 2011 following the passage of the resolution. The city was required to send out certified letters to the affected property owners, but a number of them were returned unclaimed, which has been attributed to a clerical error on the city's part.

"It was brought to our attention from a few of the property owners they did not receive proper notice," said City Attorney Jeanine Hummer. "We started that part of the process over."

New notices were sent out this year, but the bids for the project came back $7,000 costlier than last year's.

Since then, two of the property owners who originally signed the petition have submitted letters to the city withdrawing their support for the project. As result, support has fallen below the state-required 60 percent, invalidating the petition.

Hummer said supporters can try to solicit the needed signatures or start a new petition, but otherwise, the whole project will not proceed.

"I believe the matter is moot," she said.

By including the project in 2012 Street Reconstruction Program, council agreed to set aside money for the sidewalk if the petition goes through the proper legal proceedings to become valid again.

While the project would still be paid for by assessment on the property owners, council volunteered to cover the $7,000 difference, Hummer said.

Councilman Erik Yassenoff said he was concerned about the city contributing to the project if it moves forward.

"We paid $7,000 for a $150 clerical error," Yassenoff said. "We're paying to kick in for petition-driven projects when it should be resident-driven. ... It's not the first time."

Yassenoff said he is concerned about establishing a precedent of the city contributing to what should be resident-funded projects.

"It's a bad pattern to get into as we try to wrestle with financial restraints in difficult times," he said.

Councilman Mike Schadek said he understood the concerns about making a precedent, but in this case, it was the city's error.

"We need to be responsible," Schadek said. "The residents should not be penalized. This is pretty clear-cut."