The council repeals the fence ordinance

Big Pointe Woods – The city council approved the change to its fence ordinance in the first reading of the proposed change during the city council meeting on Monday.

Paragraphs inserted in “Buildings and Building Regulations, Article IX Fences, Sections 8-284” would allow fencing of up to 6 feet in back and side gardens with the consent of the neighboring owner.

A second reading of the revision will take place during the city council meeting on October 15. The revised rules would take effect immediately.

During the city council’s September 24 committee of the full session, councilors agreed to put the proposed change to their current fence ordinance up for vote.

The discussion led to a consensus to reset the regulation to the status before January 8, 2017.

Several residents watched discussion among city officials and councilors during the open meeting, including Phil Whitman, who urged the council to lift the “ban on safety fence” and the restriction on fencing more than 4 feet in height during the city council meeting on September 17th.

On the morning of September 24th, Whitman launched a petition to revoke the fence ordinance to what it was before Jan. 8, 2017, when new regulations prompted residents to submit a request for derogation for the installation of privacy fences and fences between 4 and 6 put feet up high. Fence deviations must be approved by the city council.

“I am very pleased that the council has been so responsive to the needs and interests of its constituents,” said Whitman after the committee of the entire meeting on September 24th.

According to Gene Tutag, Woods Construction Manager, the first fence ordinance was passed on December 7, 1943. At this point, the maximum fence height was 4 feet and the gap had to be 50 percent open. This ordinance allowed a 6 foot high fence or a permanent fence with the consent of the neighboring owner.

From July 1985 to January 2017, the city ordinance regulated the fencing to a maximum height of 4 feet, limited the privacy fences with different distance specifications and permitted 6-foot fences in the back or side courtyard with the consent of the neighboring owner.

According to Tutag, the city issued a total of 86 fence permits in 2013, 50 percent of which permit 6-foot fences under the ordinance. In 2014, the city issued 76 fence permits, 58 percent of which granted 6-foot fences. In 2015, 92 permits were issued, 63 percent of which were for 6-foot fences. In 2016, 123 fence permits were issued, 63 percent of which were for 6 foot high fences.

In 2017, with the new regulation going into effect on January 8th, there were 10 requests for fence deviations. Eight were granted. Two requests involving solid fences were denied.

“I think that tells us you shouldn’t allow as many deviations,” said Mayor Robert Novitke, adding that if a city’s fence regulation is good, deviation requests are rare.

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