Some residents are questioning the logic behind a proposed city ordinance amending what type of fences are permitted on private property and where they can be located.
Changes to the city’s zoning code including the definition of fence, the height permitted, temporary fencing and wildlife fencing may force some residents with gardens on side yards to remove fencing they say is protecting the gardens from wildlife.
The code is being amended to provide uniformity and ensure some fencing including snow fencing, does not remain in place year round. Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch, who is sponsoring the legislation said there were other reasons for the changes, recommended by the city's zoning administrator, Ruth Booher.
At the April 18 council meeting, Fenderbosch called the code “complex,” and said there were several driving forces behind the ordinance including residents who were mounding soil between homes and people putting up decorative trellises which were essentially creating fences.
There were other issues as well.
“A number of residences have the height in the front yard higher than code allows,” Fenderbosch said. “Some residents have changed orientation (of the fence) causing some neighbors to complain.”
Other residents kept seasonal fencing, such as orange snow fencing, up all year, and Fenderbosch said she received complaints about garden fences.
“Some residents have orange fencing around their garden during the year,” she said. “There were a lot of complaints about that.”
Residents find themselves in violation
Some residents, however, have found themselves in violation after placing fencing around gardens on side yards. New language specifically says wildlife fences shall be installed in rear yards only.
Lara Frantz, who lives on Briarwood Court, said she has no usable backyard and has put a garden on the side of her house.
“I have a huge front yard and no back yard, Frantz said. “We decided to have a garden; we would have it on the side of the house.”
Frantz’ garden is nearly invisible from the street and she said she has never had a complaint from a neighbor and said twice in the past month officials have stopped at her house to take photos. In fact, she said she was the one who notified officials about the fence, hoping to keep it, adding that many neighbors use the garden.
“I have had two city officials take photos from the street,” she said. “I feel I was trying to do the right thing. I feel like I’m being penalized for it. I really wish you would rethink the wording on the gardens. It’s not an eyesore.”
She said her fencing was necessary to keep the deer from ruining the garden.
John Ballerini lives on Gable Lane, the same street as Fenderbosch, and said he built his wife a side garden several years ago that includes a permanent fence.
Ballerini said his permanent structure was nice looking and added he has received no complaints either.
“It took a lot of energy, a lot of hard work,” he said. “It’s not an eyesore. It’s a fenced in garden with posts and a door going in and out.”
He called the “terrible” and similar to Frantz, said the fence was to keep the deer out.
Council members appeared understanding with several, including Fenderbosch and Tim Rush, wanting to re-examine the proposed ordinance.
Rush wanted the portion that addressed wildlife fencing tabled, however Law Director Bill Kerner said the ordinance would need to approve or deny it in whole. Council will consider denying it and sending the ordinance back to planning commission, where it was previously approved in whole, and have it addressed again.
Another reading on the ordinance is scheduled for May 9 where a vote will be taken to approve or deny the code changes.