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Thread: Fence regulations

  1. #1
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Fence regulations

    So my director has asked me to do some research on amending our fence ordinance. Recently we began requiring new fences to obtain a permit. Our ordinance does not allow fences in drainage easements. The easement regulation has been in place since 2003, but we have only recently had the Code Enforcement staff and time to enforce it. The increase in enforcement has caused a large number of fence cases appearing before our BZA. So far the BZA has not approved any of these cases. These additional cases are consuming a large part of staff time.

    1) Do you require permits for fences?

    2) What, if any, regulations do you have regarding the placement of fences in easements (particularly drainage easements)?

    3) If you allow fences in drainage easements, do you require the owner to sign anything?

    Any other information you all would have regarding this issue would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    1. We most certainly do require fence permits
    2. Our zoning code is silent about locating within drainage easements
    3. Since we allow them in the easement, I don't think we make them sign anything, but it is implied (perhaps not the best practice) that if a fence needs to be disturbed within the easements, there is no obligation for the one disturbing the fence to replace it. But we are usually quite gentle when we need to disturb a fence.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    We don't require fence permits and have never had real problems with fences. Our only rules for fences are against blocking visibility on corner lots.

    It seems like the the drainage easement language itself would be the place to forbid fences.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    1) Do you require permits for fences?
    No permits needed, unless fence exceeds 6feet in height.

    2) What, if any, regulations do you have regarding the placement of fences in easements (particularly drainage easements)?
    Fences allowed in easements, but if problem occurs or if utility/town needs access, fence can be torn down with no obligation for replacement from the enforcing body.

    3) If you allow fences in drainage easements, do you require the owner to sign anything?
    Nope

    So, what is your code enforcement doing? Hunting down existing fences that were placed within the easement? Or is this jump in BZA cases for new fence applications. If the former is true, I wish you good luck.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  5. #5
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post

    So, what is your code enforcement doing? Hunting down existing fences that were placed within the easement? Or is this jump in BZA cases for new fence applications. If the former is true, I wish you good luck.

    A combination of both. We have about 20 fences currently that are in violation, but we haven't initiated any enforcement action against yet. We are trying to get an amendment in place before the ground thaws in the spring.

  6. #6
    We don't require permits for fences unless they are located in a local historic district. I always suggest to people inquiring that they have a survey and install the fence on the property line. If they do not install it on the line, they are still responsible for maintaining the other side of the fence to the PL.

    We permit 4'-0" tall in front yard, 7'-0" in rear yard. The front plane of the house is used to determine which is permitted where. (Note Indiana's Spite Fence statute defines a 'spite fence' as being over 6'-0" tall. We do not consider privacy fences 'spite fences', though it'll probably be an issue at some point in my career...it sure seems like everything else has.)

    Fences may be installed in a drainage easement but may not impede the designed flow of water. No release is required.
    Je suis Charlie

  7. #7
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by rcgplanner View post
    A combination of both. We have about 20 fences currently that are in violation, but we haven't initiated any enforcement action against yet. We are trying to get an amendment in place before the ground thaws in the spring.
    Just wondering. I cringe at the thought of retro-active enforcement of old fences here in my locale. I cringe both at the sheer number of gun toters round here as well as my own spiritual well-being.

    Perhaps that is why I am not in Code Enforcement.

    Carry on and best of luck.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  8. #8
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Just wondering. I cringe at the thought of retro-active enforcement of old fences here in my locale. I cringe both at the sheer number of gun toters round here as well as my own spiritual well-being.

    Perhaps that is why I am not in Code Enforcement.

    Carry on and best of luck.
    And this gets to another question - are you going after legally installed fences (ie ones installed prior to the prohibition) or just dealing with proposed fences and ones installed after the prohibition, and leaving the legally installed ones alone?

    I hope you are not trying to retroactively make the legally installed ones "prohibited". You are going to get into some trouble.

    You might be able to do an amortization, but those are require alot of political will to enforce.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    And this gets to another question - are you going after legally installed fences (ie ones installed prior to the prohibition) or just dealing with proposed fences and ones installed after the prohibition, and leaving the legally installed ones alone?
    The prohibition in our ordinance has been in effect since 2003, but only recently have we had the manpower to actually enforce the prohibition. Anyone who's fence was constructed before 2003 is gradnfathered, we have aerial imagery from the County from 2002 and 2004 to compare. IMO, it is a huge time-waster and just gets the residents even more pixxed off at the Town. I think we are looking at the route of not prohibiting them, but requiring the owner to sign an encroachment agreement.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    ZMAN hit the nail on the head.

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