Council’s decision to allow front-yard fences
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | | 1
Head: Council’s decision to allow front-yard fences disappoints many longtime residents
In a 3-2 decision on Oct. 17, the Rollingwood City Council voted to change the ordinance that had disallowed front-yard fences since 1987. The revised ordinance lifts a year-long moratorium to verify a claim that the code had loopholes and was confusing. Fact: Code enforcement effectively prevented front-yard fences until 2010. The revised code permits front-yard fences below 36 inches using metal, brick, rock, stone or wood.
While this split decision favors the 82 survey respondents who approved allowing such fences, it ignores the wishes of the 74 that opposed. The survey shows an equal split on the major streets in Rollingwood between those in favor and opposed. Several neighbors with common lot boundaries have opposing views. Rollingwood Drive and Timberline each 11:10, Gentry 5:5 and Park Hills 5:8. The City Council member championing the code revision wrongly interpreted responses to a survey as a vote and used this false argument that penalizes Rollingwood homeowners, in order to drive through a personal and short-sighted change impacting all residents long term.
West Lake Hills’ fence ordinance, which served as a template for this revision, is guided by “the desire to preserve” the aesthetic of the city and “the rights of adjacent landowners.” (Sec. 22.03.173). By contrast, a Rollingwood resident opposed to fences could find a wood fence to his left, a metal fence on his right, and a brick-rock-stone fence across the street. Homeowners who settled in Rollingwood because of its open, friendly look may not have that anymore. When the mayor, who opposed the change, expressed concern that the fence height could grow to 4, 5, or 6 feet all over the city, he was rudely interrupted by a council member with a “So what?”
Several alternative solutions were offered by longtime residents to prevent this from becoming a divisive issue, among them that people apply for a special use permit or apply to the Board of Adjustment. These compromises were summarily dismissed by three council members.
The new ordinance deeply disappoints residents who chose Rollingwood for its rolling streets without front-yard fences.
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