Should Bay Village permit taller rear yard fences?

The Bay Village City Council is considering amending the rear yard fencing requirements to allow more options to a home owner. At the Environment, Safety and Community Services Committee meeting on March 18, the main discussions focused on the following rear yard fencing issues: (1) increasing the height of a rear yard fence from four feet to five feet, requiring 75 percent transparency for any fence higher than four feet; and (2) expanding the length of a privacy screen from 32 feet to 40 feet and allowing an additional eight feet of decreasing transitional screen in either direction.

Currently, Bay Village limits the height of a rear yard fence to four feet. Furthermore, there is no transparency requirement for a rear yard fence. As to a rear yard privacy screen, a privacy screen shall not exceed six feet, four inches in height, and the privacy screen shall not exceed 32 feet in any direction.  

Unlike Bay Village, all other municipalities on the westside of Cleveland allow the height of a rear yard fence to be six feet. Some of these municipalities do not have any transparency requirement and, for those municipalities that do have a transparency requirement, it is generally no greater than 50 percent.

The municipalities that allow a rear yard fence of a height of six feet with no transparency requirement do not have provisions for privacy screens. Rocky River allows rear yard privacy screens of a six-foot height, with less than 25 percent transparency on not more than two sides of an area.

At the Committee meeting, several citizens and Council members provided input on the proposed amendments. Citizens commented that, as the fencing in a rear yard is part of the home owner’s private property, the home owner should be given some discretion on the type of fencing they are allowed to have. One of the concerns raised is the need for a home owner to have a rear yard fence that would retain pets.    

As to the proposed amendments on rear yard fencing, citizens noted that the commercial availability of five-foot fencing with 75 percent transparency is very limited, if at all available, as it is more common for municipalities to allow a six-foot fence. As to the 75 percent transparency requirement, such fencing would be limited to metal space bar panels, and would not include various vinyl or composite fencing. As such, it was requested that the maximum height allowed be six-foot and the transparency requirement should be 50 percent, as other westside municipalities permit. As to the proposed expansion of a privacy screen, the input expressed was to allow some expansion of the length of privacy screens.

At the Committee meeting, no formal decision was made on any amendments. The next scheduled meeting of the Environment, Safety and Community Services Committee to discuss the fencing ordinances will be held on Tuesday, April 9, at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall. If you would like to provide your input on this proposed legislation, you should contact your Bay Village City Council member and/or attend the upcoming Environment, Safety and Community Services Committee meeting on this topic.

dennis driscoll

retired tax lawyer

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Volume 11, Issue 7, Posted 9:51 AM, 04.02.2019