Township proposes amendment to fence ordinance

FLUSHING TWP. — Flushing Township is attempting to make its fence building regulations clearer and more consistent with an amendment to its zoning ordinance.

At its Oct. 8 meeting, the Flushing Township Board of Trustees approved the first reading of an amendment that will require property owners to secure a permit for the installation of a fence and will limit the placement and maximum height of fences. The amendment will also create a provision for homeowners to request a special use permit from the Planning Commission.

Flushing Township Supervisor Fred Thorsby said that an amended fence ordinance is necessary because lots over five acres were exempt from fence-building regulations under the current zoning ordinance.

“This has created problems for us because some property owners could do anything they wanted with their fences,” he said. “In one case, a property owner put up a 12-foot high fence in his backyard. We couldn’t do anything about that because the lot was over five acres and was exempt from the ordinance.”

If approved during its second reading, the amended ordinance would limit the maximum height of fences to six feet in residential districts. It would also stipulate that fences “shall not include an enclosure constructed of chicken wire or similar material not exceeding three feet in height, installed in a side or backyard of a residential property for the purpose of enclosing vegetation or domestic animals.”

Additional proposed regulations are as follows:

–Fences cannot contain barbed wire, razor wire, glass shards or other materials designed to cause injury, electric current or be designed to transmit an electric charge.

–Installation of a fence intended primarily for agricultural purposes on a property located in a residential district will require a special use permit.

–A request to install a fence on vacant land will be submitted by application for a special use permit to the Planning Commission.

Flushing Township Attorney Steve Moulton said that the Planning Commission will have the authority to waive regulations in certain cases, such as allowing the construction of barbed wire fences for agricultural purposes or electric fences to keep farm animals contained.

A second reading of the ordinance amendment will be held at the next Flushing Township Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 12.