After several months of vigorous debate and public comments, City Council has decided that the city’s 60-year-old fence height restriction should stay at 4 feet.
Council voted 4-3 last week against a controversial fence ordinance that would have raised the legal fence height by 16 inches, to 5 feet 4 inches. The proposed ordinance would have allowed homeowners to install fences as high as 5 feet with 75% transparency.
“We moved to Bay Village for three primary reasons: the lake, the schools and the trees,” said resident Carolyn Mercer, who opposed allowing higher fences. “(The higher) fences would affect (views of) the lake and the trees even when we’re just driving around.”
A few, however, spoke in favor of allowing higher fences.
“Fences serve many purposes and individuals determine what those purposes are,” resident Susan Murnane said during open discussion before the meeting. “Just because something is allowed doesn’t mean that everybody is going to do it or want it. But fences can serve to reduce community conflict, conflict between neighbors and that is good for the community as a whole.”
Nancy Stainbrook, David L. Tadych, Sara Byrnes Maier and Peter J. Winzig voted against the measure. Councilmembers Dwight Clark, Marty Mace and Lydia DeGeorge voted for it.
It was proposed in April and went through debate in council committees. The measure came before council on June 3 and then rejected at a meeting on June 10. However, later in the week council member Peter J. Winzig changed his vote.
At this time, the only way the issue could resurface is if residents take it to the ballot as an initiative petition. The idea was suggested by an audience member before council voted.
Residents wanting to overturn the vote would need to collect signatures from 10 percent of the residents who voted in the last November general election. Petitions then would have be received by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections by Aug. 6.
“The last time we had issues go to the ballot was six years ago,” said Clark,who is the council president, told the audience. “We had issues with our charter and some charter amendments, all of which were voted down.”
Not everyone sees fence height as an important factor to living in the community. DeGeorge said later in a Facebook post that she was disappointed the measure failed and that she had hoped it would turn out differently.
“I don’t believe our charm comes from our fence heights,” DeGeorge said in a phone interview. “The charm comes from the things that truly are different like the small town feel and that everybody knows everybody. That’s where I think our charm comes from, not whether or not we can see over each other’s fences.”
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