The agenda is a little beefy. If readers find concern or interest regarding a particular item, please comment.
City Council Agenda 3/2/09
I'm worried about Item 22 (Public Hearing-Zoning code amendment). This amendment covers construction of fences and walls. I believe, currently, the city only requires permits for masonry walls over 4 feet. This amendment would extend the permit requirement to other forms of fencing.
Here's the problem. If this amendment is passed in its current form replacing your fence in a historic district will now require a Major COA (Certificate of Appropriateness). If you haven't been reading my snarky comments on the tree ordinance, you might have missed that a Major COA will cost you $500. Even before a single hole is dug or a screw is purchased, a homeowner in the historic district will be $500 poorer if they want to replace their fence.
Does every resident in the city get smacked with a hefty permit fee. Nope. In fact, based on comments included in Item 22, the members of the Planning Commission apparently were concerned about the cost of the permit for the rest of the city, but still decided to require a Major COA (knowing it would cost $500) for historic district residents.
Can we swap out a standard dog-eared fence for another dog-eared fence? If so, should it require giving the city $500? Will the $500 yield better fences in the historic districts? I'm not opposed to some oversight, even at the possible risk of homogenizing the fence styles. Does it make sense to be yanking $500 out of people's pocket when they want to improve their property? With trees and fences, can we find some way to fast track these alterations and decrease the time investment of the Planning Department, as well as allow review by the HPC.
It's your money (or the little old lady's, on the corner). Speak up! The Council members with historic districts are Soto, Atchley, and Lantz. Send them an email, if you can't attend.