Gilbert homeowners learn they’re now responsible for repairing sidewalks

A subdivision in Gilbert will soon have to maintain its sidewalks after the town decided it had no legal obligation to do so.
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 9:08 PM MST
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GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A Gilbert homeowner reached out to Arizona’s Family after learning they’re suddenly responsible for repairing the sidewalk in front of their home. It’s something the town had previously done. Unfortunately, the change impacts the entire Cooley Station Phase 1 subdivision, meaning hundreds of families are on the hook. “That shouldn’t be our responsibility,” Jennifer Moralde said.

Moralde is fed up. Since she moved to the subdivision six years ago, the Town of Gilbert has maintained the sidewalks. About two years ago, that changed. The town reviewed the matter and determined, “There are neighborhoods in Gilbert, including Cooley Station, where the town does not have a legal right or obligation to maintain sidewalks based on the neighborhood’s CC&Rs and final plat. Each community’s CC&Rs and plat together detail whether the maintenance responsibility is on the landowner, homeowner’s association, or the town. Gilbert continues to maintain rights-of-way and sidewalks that are the responsibility of the town.”

The HOA hired an attorney and tried to fight the decision. Last month, homeowners received a letter from the HOA stating, “each lot owner is responsible for all necessary maintenance, repair, and replacement of any sidewalk on their lot.” “I don’t have extra $3,000 or $4,000 sitting around the fix the sidewalk. It’s community property. Everyone is using it,” Moralde said.

“Basically the HOA, the city have no one else to go after, so they’re just going to put it on the little guy, as us as the homeowners,” Brandon Mitchell, another homeowner in this subdivision, said. He showed Arizona’s Family the four sections of his sidewalk he’s now responsible for fixing.

To add insult to injury, homeowners said the HOA maintained many of the trees in the area between the sidewalk and the road, whose roots are causing some of this sidewalk damage. That means even when they make repairs, it won’t be a long-term fix. “That’s not even necessarily addressing the trees and the roots that are extremely invasive,” Mitchell said.

“The roots are protruding and going to the sidewalk which means eventually that is going to buckle and I’m going to have to fix that,” Moralde said. According to that letter, the HOA will begin inspections and enforcement of this new policy in about 90 days.