Bad fences make …
Apparently, the city’s rules aren’t all that specific about what kind of fences commercial property owners put up around their properties. Which could be an issue as the downturn continues to suck businesses into its treacherous undertow.
“Although the lack of this type of control has not been much of a problem in good economic times when commercial properties are fully occupied or when commercial property owners are requesting entitlements for new construction or new uses and any proposed fences or barriers can be reviewed under those proposals,” the staff report on this proposal says, “the downturn in the economy has revealed the City’s inability to prevent or control property owners of vacant properties from erecting inappropriate fencing or barriers within the City’s historic commercial districts or in the other business areas of the City.”
In commercial or industrial districts, fences can be eight feet high in setback areas and “allowable building height” elsewhere; on Park and Webster, there’s no setback requirement, so fences as high as 40 to 60 feet could be erected in front of vacant properties. And there are no controls on the type of materials that can be used for a fence, except for a prohibition on barbed wire and razor wire.All that’s required is that it be structurally sound.
City staff want to require a permit process for the fences so they can mitigate the impacts on neighboring businesses and also property values (the city would also notify neighbors about what’s being considered and could require changes to what is proposed to be built). Decisions could be appealed to the Planning Board.
If okayed by the Planning Board, the new rules would be passed on to the City Council for approval.