Should Bay Village permit 5-foot or 6-foot yard fences?

The Bay Village City Council is finalizing the revision of the side and rear yard fencing requirements. The Environment, Safety and Community Services Committee has proposed the following side and rear yard fencing requirements: (1) increasing the height of the fence from 4 feet 4 inches, to 5 feet 4 inches, and requiring 75% open space for any fence higher than 4 feet; and (2) expanding the length of a privacy screen from 32 feet to 40 feet and allowing an additional 8 feet of decreasing transitional screen in either direction.

Currently, Bay Village limits the height of a side yard and rear yard fence to 4 feet. Furthermore, there is no open space requirement for a side yard or rear yard fence. As to a rear yard privacy screen, a privacy screen shall not exceed 6 feet 4 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 6 feet. Some of these municipalities do not have any open space requirement and, for those municipalities that do have an open space requirement, it is generally no greater than 50%.

The Environment, Safety and Community Services Committee has not expanded its initial recommendation from its initial proposal regarding side and rear yard fences, which adds a 1-foot increase in height while requiring 75% open space for the full height of the fence.

The Committee has had several public hearings on revising the fencing requirements. Many Bay Village residents provided input on the proposed revision. A large percentage of residents requested that, as the fencing in the side and rear yard is part of the home owner’s private property, the home owner should be given discretion on the type of fencing they are allowed to have, including a height of 6 feet.

Specific concerns raised are the desire for residents to have privacy from their neighbors and the requirement to retain pets in the yard. As to the proposed revision for side and rear yard fencing, it was additionally noted that the commercial availability of 5-foot fencing with 75% transparency is limited as it is more common for municipalities to allow a 6-foot fence.

A potential compromise between the competing fence positions is to raise the height limit to 5 feet and, consistent with the current ordinance, require only the fencing above 4 feet to be 75% open.

The proposed ordinance revision is expected to be introduced at the Bay Village City Council meeting on Monday, June 3. City Council plans readings of the proposed revision and allowing comments at three meetings. City Council’s vote on the proposed revision will be at the third meeting.  

If you would like to provide your input on this proposed legislation, you should contact your Bay Village City Council member or attend the upcoming meetings. Regular Council meetings are held the first and third Monday of every month at 8 p.m., with special meetings called on the "off" Mondays when needed. Meetings are preceded by a Council Committee session at 7:30 p.m. where discussions are often held. Agendas are posted on the city's website, Click on the City Government link, then City Council.

dennis driscoll

retired tax lawyer

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Volume 11, Issue 10, Posted 10:28 AM, 05.21.2019