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Thread: How tall is this fence?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian SideshowBob's avatar
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    How tall is this fence?

    We have a 6-foot maximum fence height. In the 16 months I've been at this City, it has tyically been a very easy thing to enforce. However, someone came in with this illustration: http://www.wrcla.org/cedarprojects/f...ivacyfence.asp

    The fence, presumably would be 6 feet high. However, the "roof" over the gate and the flowered area would be more like 8 or 9 feet high. They are attached to the fence, but are they really fence? If so, then I guess this would not be permissible (that is where I am leaning).

    If not, then where would the line be drawn in terms of how high things like this can be.

    The person that brough this in asked whether he could put the flowered part set back a few inches from (yet still overhanging) the fence. I told him we'd treat it as an accessory structure and it would need to be five feet back.

    Has anyone had to deal with these before. There is not really a place for it in our code.
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Think about why we have fence hight restrictions in the first place... then apply this scenario to the specific lot. If it is not a corner lot (which it shouldn't be fenced with solid fencing anyway) then it could be permitted by variance. Also, the whole fence isn't 8 feet high only a portion of it such as over the gate or around a patio area. It looks nice and with some ivy would be a real asset to the house and increase property value. I would allow it through a variance hearing.
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  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    We would treat it in the following ways (as applicable):

    If the arbor/roof is attached then it is part of the fence and puts it over the height max.

    If the arbor/roof is detached and freestanding, then it is not part of the fence and simply an arbor which our code allows within any setback and at any height.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmm.....

    All they need to do is prove they have a hardship to get the variance..... Like most board members, I'd issue it, just because it looks cool....as long as the neighbor is ok with it.....looks like it might hang over the property line If the six foot mark is at the top of the lattice part of the fence....it wouldn't meet code....right...
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    This fence is 8 feet tall. Come in for a variance. As a ZBA member in my city, I would not vote for it. I don't care how nice it looks, it's not a hardship to deny a roof on your privacy fence.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Coragus View post
    This fence is 8 feet tall. Come in for a variance. As a ZBA member in my city, I would not vote for it. I don't care how nice it looks, it's not a hardship to deny a roof on your privacy fence.
    While I believe you are technically and legally corrct, I wonder if this does not point to a shortcoming in many of our codes. What is the benefit to denying something which could often be considered an improvement over the typical privacy fence? Maybe it is time to revisit the code and build in a little more flexibility.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yes....

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    While I believe you are technically and legally corrct, I wonder if this does not point to a shortcoming in many of our codes. What is the benefit to denying something which could often be considered an improvement over the typical privacy fence? Maybe it is time to revisit the code and build in a little more flexibility.
    Good point....and I think it would add to the safety factor....kind of tough for a bad guy to climb that fence, or get out of the back yard when your chasing him with a loaded 44 mag! If someone showed me that fence, I'd say it looks good, get your neighbor to ok it and make sure its on your property then we'll try to get you a variance......

    Coragus is one tough customer......but still cool at the same time......
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Cardinal is completely correct. This looks to be a perfect instance where good design is punished.

    So the 6 foot fence could be erected legally.

    And an 8 foot arbor w/ roof could be erected legally.

    The two just cannot touch?

    Makes little sense.

  9. #9
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u View post
    Cardinal is completely correct. This looks to be a perfect instance where good design is punished.

    So the 6 foot fence could be erected legally.

    And an 8 foot arbor w/ roof could be erected legally.

    The two just cannot touch?

    Makes little sense.
    As a developer, does this surprise you? Many codes have minute inconsistencies that a good and helpful planner would show the applicant the loopholes for something as inconsequential like this.

    I'm not apologizing for the minor inflexibility of many codes, but is the cost of 4 more 4"x4"s really a burden?

    when it is a minor thing like this fence, I often try to find a solution for the applicant that meets code, but also gets them what they want (or at least a very close approximation).
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    m

    I am not suggesting its a burden. Just silly design to have to keep them separate.

    A good example of this type of disconnect is this:

    Sign Ordinance says max area 100 sq. feet. Ok, fair.

    Ordiance allows me to build extremely attractive stone entrance features.

    I put the 100 s f sign (really in pin mounted lettering lets say on slate) on the retaining wall; staff says i now have a 1000 sg ft sign.

    Only design solution--build the wall; put the sign up infront of it.

    Penalizes good design. As planners we should be helping reward good design.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    We just require a building permit for fences over 6 feet in height and allow decorative structures like arbors to encroach on the setback. No problem here, we'd approve it if they can demonstrate that it isn't going to blow over.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u View post
    m

    I am not suggesting its a burden. Just silly design to have to keep them separate.

    A good example of this type of disconnect is this:

    Sign Ordinance says max area 100 sq. feet. Ok, fair.

    Ordiance allows me to build extremely attractive stone entrance features.

    I put the 100 s f sign (really in pin mounted lettering lets say on slate) on the retaining wall; staff says i now have a 1000 sg ft sign.

    Only design solution--build the wall; put the sign up infront of it.

    Penalizes good design. As planners we should be helping reward good design.
    I agree with this 100%. I agree 110%, but that is impossible, in that, 100% is the most anyone can agree.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I have always been a fan of ordinances which build in flexibility. For example, the ordinance may allow a six foot fence, but allow the plan commission to grant a waiver which allows an additional two feet of decorative features, subject to certain criteria which can be established.

    Rather than point out inconsistencies and other ways to get around the code, it should be our role as planners to identify where changes may help implment good design. When I encounter such situations I bring them to the attention of the plan commission and seek direction to bring a proposed revision to the plan commission at the next meeting. This, by the way, is a good way to create a city reputation for being responsive government.
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  14. #14
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    Rational solution to structure height in required setback areas...

    Our city does not allow any structure in required setback areas higher than 30 above grade except those that are specifically allowed, such as fences with their height limits. That would rationally solve this problem. In this example, the arbor would not be permitted at that location. It would be allowed outside the required setback area like any other structure. If they want shade in the setback, they plant trees. The purpose of the setback needs to be kept in mind.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I have always been a fan of ordinances which build in flexibility. For example, the ordinance may allow a six foot fence, but allow the plan commission to grant a waiver which allows an additional two feet of decorative features, subject to certain criteria which can be established.
    Making a petitioner go to a commission to get waiver has been declared by the power that be to be onerous and unfriendly to business (and residents) in the City.

    We issue administrative waivers......after we send off notices to neighbros within 200 feet of the subject property and wait 14 days :/
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

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