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Broken sidewalk could be homeowner's responsibility to fix, according to city-parish ordinance

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BATON ROUGE - A man sought help from the city-parish about a broken sidewalk in front of his home and now says that the parish is telling him to either make the repairs himself, or face a fine.

A few months ago, Dolen Dunn called the city about his broken sidewalk along Baytree Drive in Baton Rouge. He says it's cracked, and part of it is sinking into the ground. Dunn first noticed the problematic sidewalk when he moved into his Merrydale home 10 months ago.

"Kids come through and fall off scooters and skates," Dunn said.

A crew came out to take a look at the sidewalk and placed a couple of barricades in the area. A few days later, Dunn called to check on the results of the investigation and was told that the city wasn't responsible for the damage.

There's a 1951 city ordinance that says it's the responsibility of property owners of lots on streets with sidewalks to make repairs. That includes removing uneven and broken sections and replacing them with material that will make the surface level and keep it uniform.

That's not all: He's got a deadline! Dunn says he has 15 days to make the repairs, or he'll face a fine. According to that ordinance, offenders can face a fine of up to $100 or 20 days in jail — or both.

"As a tax-paying citizen, I figure we pay all these taxes for these type of things. I don't feel I'm liable for it. I don't own the sidewalk," Dunn said.

He estimates the project will cost several hundred dollars.

"I'm like, wow, I'm reaching out to you all for help, and now it's my fault. Unbelievable," he said.

Dunn isn't convinced it's his responsibility and plans to fight the decision.

The parish told 2 On Your Side Friday afternoon that there appears to have been a misunderstanding, and a violation letter is not being sent to Dunn. The parish says the only time it's sent a violation letter regarding sidewalks was when someone intentionally destroyed a sidewalk.

The parish says if there's drainage or sewage infrastructure in the area, that would warrant action by the city.


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