People step on the sidewalk all the time -- that's the idea.

But a couple of steps on the sidewalk in front of a new Clintonville eatery have city officials trying to resolve a public right-of-way dispute with a developer.

The steps lead to the front entrance of the new Jimmy John's restaurant at 4409 N. High St.

The question is whether there was supposed to be a door on that side of the building at all, let alone steps going down onto the sidewalk.

The owner of the franchise, Brent Zimmerman, maintains the entryway is fine.

"There isn't a problem," he told ThisWeek Booster earlier this month. "The store was built to specifications approved by the city."

That's not the case, said CAC Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt.

"The plans don't show an entrance at all straight on the sidewalk," she said Nov. 14. "They've got an entrance on the side."

Jeff Ortega, spokesman for the city's Department of Public Service, said the department has no records or plans that indicate a step should be located in the public right of way.

"The department has reached out to the contractor who is doing the work to inquire if the contract has such a document," he wrote in a Nov. 14 email. "To date, the department has not received any more information on this."

Ortega added the department will keep trying to resolve this issue.

That might not be so easy, according to an Oct. 26 email sent to Wetherholt by David J. Reiss, a planner in the city's Department of Building and Zoning Services.

"Based upon the site plan, it would appear that the front-facing wall of the building is at a zero-foot setback from the right of way in this instance," he wrote. "Therefore the steps on the sidewalk seem to be entirely in the right of way at this site. Because zoning laws do not affect anything beyond the property line, we do not have jurisdiction concerning the placement of the steps. This would be a concern of the Department of Public Service, Traffic Management Division.

"Code Enforcement does not have jurisdiction for any code violations in the right of way. They deal strictly with code violations on private property."

"It's an encroachment and an infringement and, frankly, it's dangerous, in my opinion," said Randy Ketcham, the area commission representative for District 6, in which the former chiropractor's office is located.

Ketcham said he's received plenty of complaints from constituents about traffic issues related to the sandwich shop, located at the busy intersection of High Street and Henderson Road, but one resident reached out to him regarding the steps on the sidewalk.

Tom Gabalski said he frequently runs on North High Street before dawn.

"Thankfully, it is lit pretty well, but it does seem pretty obtrusive, the steps right out there on the sidewalk," he said. "When I run High Street, I'm all the way down on campus and you see that kind of thing on campus, but those buildings have been around a long time. I thought people would figure it out and do it right when building a new building.

"I'm trusting the process that it's going to be resolved."

After hearing from Reiss, Wetherholt went to view the steps for herself.

"I couldn't believe it," she said.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1