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John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, acknowledge the information on the website is outdated and would be updated this week.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.








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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