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Thread: How do you measure fence height?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    How do you measure fence height?

    I am working on a set of amendments for a community, and one of the questions is regarding the height of a fence. While not explained in the ordinance, past practice in this community is to measure the height of the fence on the side of the applicant’s property. There are two other vague sections that relate to screening which says that it is x number of feet from the side to be screened, but otherwise it is not adequately explained.

    We however have a situation where a 3 foot high retaining wall was put up by property owner A, and property owner B is now putting up a 6 foot fence on the line, which is at the edge of the wall. However, said fence measures 9 feet if measured on property owner A’s side. Now, property owner A wants owner B to cut 3 feet off the fence, even though property owner B has no control over the elevation of property owned by property owner A.

    Do you measure right at the base of each post, a few feet out on one side or the other, at the lowest point, or something else?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Direct from our code:

    "Fencing and screening materials shall be measured from the finished grade of the a lot/property." So basically as the lot begins to either slope downwards or up you go from finished grade and measure.

    Good luck, these are always tricky. I want to throw in an amendment where retaining wall fences are measured from mid-point of retaining wall to the top of fence. It has since stalled, but i want to bring it back.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Raf View post
    Direct from our code:

    "Fencing and screening materials shall be measured from the finished grade of the a lot/property." So basically as the lot begins to either slope downwards or up you go from finished grade and measure.

    Good luck, these are always tricky. I want to throw in an amendment where retaining wall fences are measured from mid-point of retaining wall to the top of fence. It has since stalled, but i want to bring it back.
    I am guessing that you have a definition of "Finished Grade" too.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I am guessing that you have a definition of "Finished Grade" too.
    Yes we do.. sorry should have included that mskis..
    "Finished grade is defined as the top compacted and leveled earth for the purposes of constructing a slab foundation."
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    We measure fence height from the lowest point three feet from either side of the fence:

    (e) "Height of a fence" means the vertical distance as measured from the ground level at the lowest grade level within three feet of either side of such fence to the upper-most portion of the fence.

    It kind of solves your issue Michaelskis but they would only be allowed a three foot fence (for a total of six). I would see that the problem now becomes the property owner with the higher grade, and think a short fence like that would be dangerous with a 3' drop on the other side? This has been on my plate to deal with, so curious to see what type of responses you get.

  6. #6
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    With a tape measure?


    From our code:
    The height of a fence, wall or hedge, or combination thereof, shall be measured from the lowest adjacent grade within three (3) feet on either side of the fence. If a wall or wall/fence is built on top of a berm or retaining wall, the combined height of the fence and berm or retaining wall must not exceed the allowable fence height.

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    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    In the past, I've always used lowest point, but I like Raf's idea as well.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    In the past, I've always used lowest point, but I like Raf's idea as well.
    Lowest point, how far away from the fence?

    Any other ideas from anyone? We can't be the only ones with fencing regulations

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I've always measured the fence from the highest grade on either side. It's not property owner B's fault that A has a low grade and A should appreciate the extra fence so his neighbor isn't looking in on him.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    I've always measured the fence from the highest grade on either side. It's not property owner B's fault that A has a low grade and A should appreciate the extra fence so his neighbor isn't looking in on him.
    This how I've done it in two states. I've never heard of "finished grade" being compacted soil for slab on grade. I've always used top of native or incorporated soil that is ready for landscaping installation (as opposed to "on top of 4" of wood chips or rock mulch") and drainage, in three states..."rough grade" being areas where there needs to be smoothing/shaping for drainage and installation such as turf.
    -------
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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Normally the dirt at the bottom of the fence worked for us, but there was always the smart ass who piled up a couple feet of dirt. That's when we pulled out the code to say average grade or the crown of the road would be used. Normally we would just have them dig the dirt back until we say the concrete footing and measure from there, but that was only for the people that made our life hard.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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