New Detroit Lakes fencing ordinance heads to development committee, council members expected to address changes May 11
The new rules, unanimously recommended by the Town Planning Commission on April 22nd, included a list of approved and prohibited materials for fence construction, as well as diagrams explaining fence height requirements for three different property types. The regulation also includes a “grandfather” clause that would allow residents to keep their existing fences as per the old regulation.
“It’s a legal, non-compliant use, so you would have the right to keep that fence in place indefinitely,” said Larry Remmen, community development director for Detroit Lakes, during the commission meeting. “But if the fence was removed for more than a year, they would have to replace it under this regulation.”
According to the new fence rules, stone, brick, finished wood, vinyl, metal or chain link are the only permitted materials for fence construction. Prohibited materials include: agricultural fence materials, electrically charged items, barbed wire, cables, wire, or used materials.
However, Remmen said if a resident was able to show an undue burden in complying with the new regulation, they could request a derogation through the city’s committee process.
“If it is a derogation, they have to explain why they have practical difficulty not complying with the regulation. I think it would be a little difficult to do,” he said. “I think if we came across something … that we thought was a fine-grained material that wasn’t on our list, we’d probably try to change our list if we had a significant number of people who request this. “
The regulation also includes diagrams showing the different fence height requirements for three different types of lots.
A standard lot allows a 6 foot fence in the back yard, but the height of the fence must decrease to 3 feet or a 4 foot fence with chicken wire material as it crosses the house into the front yard.
A lakefront property does not allow lakefront fences within the shore impact zone, which may vary depending on the location of the property, but then allows a 3 foot fence in the front of the home. The fence height can then be raised to 6 feet in the back yard, but must then be reduced back to 3 feet within 30 feet of the property line on the street side.
A corner lot at the intersection of two different streets allows for a 3 foot fence or a 4 foot fence with chain link material in the front yard, but does not allow fencing within 25 feet of the intersection to allow driver visibility of oncoming traffic. Once the fence merges into the back yard of the property, the fence height can be raised to 6 feet until it approaches the rear property line. The fence height must decrease to 3 feet within 20 feet of the rear property line.
The language has also been incorporated into the new ordinance, which mandates the maintenance and repair of damaged fences to avoid city penalties.
The new regulation states: “Every fence must be kept in a state of reasonable repair and must not become or remain in a state of decay or danger. Any damaged or missing element of a fence or wall must be repaired.” Any fence or wall that is, or is, or is in a state of disrepair is a public nuisance and may be subject to degradation. “
The proposed rules will initially be received by the City’s Historical Development Committee at the historic Holmes Theater on May 10th at 5:00 p.m. for discussion and possible recommendation to the entire City Council during their regular meeting the following day. With the approval of the Council, the changes would come into force on June 8th.