Council delays acting on proposed changes to fence guidelines
Published 5:40 pm Thursday, January 28, 2016
The City Council’s decision regarding proposed changes to guidelines concerning fences and other items in the city’s historic district is on hold.
During its meeting Monday, the council chose to delay acting on the proposed changes until it receives and reviews the existing guidelines and all proposed changes discussed during the past year or so. Council members said it is difficult for them to understand what’s being proposed when several sources provide differing information about what the guidelines allow or don’t allow. Councilwoman Virginia Finnerty said the guidelines available online are different from the ones that were included in the agenda for the council’s meeting earlier this week.
“What I got in the agenda doesn’t look anything like what’s on the website,” she said.
John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, acknowledge the information on the website is outdated and would be updated this week.
“It’s very different. It’s extremely different,” she said. “People are buying property without knowing what the rules are, basically.”
Other council members said they want to fully understand how the city’s fence committee and Historic Preservation Commission developed the proposed changes before they make a decision regarding the proposed changes. Councilman Doug Mercer, who raised concerns about some of the proposed changes, late last year, said he has other concerns about the proposed changes. He wants to address those concerns before the council acts on the proposed changes.
“If you try to compare what’s on the website with what we were given in November with what we are given here (in the agenda packet for Monday) you get lost in the shuffle,” Mercer said.
The proposed changes have been debated and reviewed for several months. The council, during a meeting in November, conducted a hearing on proposed changes to the guidelines, and then decided to send the proposed changes back to the commission for additional review. The proposed changes regarding fences, walls and shrubbery, among other items, have elicited support and opposition.
Councilman Larry Beeman’s motion to table the issue “until we have a clear understanding what the changes are” was unanimously approved by the council.