Proposed Bay Village fence ordinance raises concern
On June 3, two fence proposals were submitted to Bay Village City Council – one to keep the ordinance at 4-foot-high fencing for side or back yards (the way it has been for over 60 years), the other to increase the fence height to 5 feet with 75% transparency (chain link fencing or wrought iron with horizontal or vertical pickets). Four of seven council members, a majority, decided to move forward with 4-foot fencing. Within a week, however, one council member changed his mind and we are now back to the proposal for 5-foot fencing.
The proposal would affect the entire city, but was started because one resident complained her dogs kept jumping over her fence. However, the Board of Zoning Appeals has made it clear that the fence ordinance is not meant for animal control or neighbor problems, but to keep the character and charm of the city. Also questionable is that residents on the lake are excluded from the proposed changes, discriminating against the rest of the city whose views are just as important to them.
Members of city council need to understand that along with maintaining our community’s aesthetics and property values, safety is the most important reason to keep the 4-feet ordinance. Higher fences create a safe haven for burglars once in your yard and greatly reduce your chances of seeing them. Criminals might specifically target your home or you, and it is harder to get help if you need to get your neighbor’s attention, especially in domestic violence situations.
Higher fences create a false sense of security. A Bay Village resident agreed with me at a recent BZA meeting, stating, “Privacy gives you anonymity. I can tell you as a policeman for 30 years, and as a safety director for 12 years, when you have all the yards blocked in with privacy, once a burglar is in your backyard, he owns you. He can get in that house, he has total anonymity. ... I can tell you countless burglaries where the people made entry through the back. ... It is a safety factor. In this city we are very lucky. We have very few burglaries. Part of it may be due to the fact that we have lines of view from one house to another.”
When you are in a crisis, everything around you becomes a blur and you do not see clearly. You need full sight lines and clear views with no obstacles. I know this because my son was a victim of a crime. He was kidnapped and molested. He was only 7. He was found behind two locked doors with walls all around him. He could not be seen and he could not get out. He would have been murdered if he had not been found.
I ran and screamed searching for him. Every door, every wall, and all barriers outside were all blocking my views to find him. He was taken away and possibly gone forever. When committing a crime, a perpetrator will always look for ways to not be seen, ways to hide a child to kidnap or hurt. Higher fences are a barrier to find your child. There should never be any obstacle that would make your search for your child harder.
I ask that the current city council members trust the founding members of Bay Village and previous council members who created this special, beautiful city and made decisions thinking of the future of Bay Village. They kept saying no to higher fences over 60 years ago to secure Bay Village for their children, and generations to come, so we could continue to enjoy the character, safety and charm we have today.
If this proposed ordinance passes, we may eventually have 6-foot fencing everywhere. We are smart like those before us and we love Bay Village enough to stand strong in our convictions. Be the hero for our children and community and vote no against the 5-foot fence. Keep the fence ordinance as it is at 4 feet, as did all the wise council members before you.
I encourage Bay residents to contact your city council members and tell them you want to keep the fencing at 4 feet. Join me at City Hall on Monday, June 24, at 7:30 p.m. – the night they are scheduled to vote on the ordinance.