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The Cape Girardeau City Council is expected to decide tonight whether to require sidewalks in all future subdivisions built within a mile of schools or school property. The issue is being addressed in conjunction with the rezoning of Forest Hills Subdivision. It is close to school property, and Councilman Melvin Gateley, a retired educator, proposed the sidewalks because children who live within a mile of their school aren't transported by school buses. Many of them walk.

The Planning and Zoning Commission may recommend that the city expand the mandatory sidewalks proposal citywide. On Nov. 13, it will discuss whether to require sidewalks in every future subdivision in the city. If passed it will be sent to the council for final approval.

The city already has an ordinance that permits the council to require sidewalks in any subdivision it believes needs them. Gateley's proposal is intended to make walking safer for children, which sidewalks do. While the council's current authority to require sidewalks where needed may be sufficient to meet the needs of pedestrians, making sidewalks mandatory would remove the decision-making process from a case-by-case process that seems somewhat cumbersome and ineffective.

Mandatory sidewalks would run up the price of building lots, but the cost spread over all the lots in a subdivision would be a minimum additional price to pay for safety and convenience.