Council to consider changes to guidelines

Published 11:01 pm Sunday, November 22, 2015

Changes to guidelines regarding fences and walls in Washington’s historic district may be coming.

During its meeting Monday, the Washington City Council is scheduled to consider amending the historic district guidelines to incorporate changes recommended by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. A public hearing on the matter is set for 6 p.m.

Those proposed changes were discussed by the commission several times this year, most recently earlier this month.

Six years ago, a fence committee was formed to strengthen regulations concerning fences and walls, and examples of fences adhering to those regulations were provided in the guidelines, according to Dee Congleton, a long-time historic preservationist in the city.

In recent months, residents and potential homebuyers of properties in the historic district voiced their concerns regarding stronger regulations to help ensure the visual appeal of their properties. In April, John Rodman, director of community and cultural resources for the city, appointed Congleton as the chairwoman of the new fence committee.

The committee explored several options for fences. Committee recommendations include: streetscape fences must be no taller than 4 feet high and of an open design, with at least a 1-inch gap between pickets; privacy fences in back or side yards must be no taller than 5 feet; and several other design/construction guidelines. Among the examples of appropriate fences are brick latticework, wrought iron, stone or rock, shadow box and picket fences.

Some speakers at meetings where the proposed changes were discussed expressed concerns that the proposed changes would be too restrictive and result in “unintended consequences.” Others said privacy fences could be appropriate in some instances.

The council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers in the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St. To view the council’s agenda for a specific meeting, visit the city’s web­site at, click “Government” then “City Council” heading, then click “Meeting Agendas” on the menu to the right. Then click on the date for the appropriate agenda.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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