"Fenced in" with the city

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by crabe, Oct 21, 2004.

  1. crabe

    crabe New Member

    Mar 30, 2004
    I have been lurking a while... but my first post.

    I live in a decent sized city - bought a fixer upper. I live in an old neighborhood with old houses and big yards that feels like I live in the country. I get along great with the neighbors. Some of the houses around me are in serious need of TLC.

    I recently put up a fence to keep my overactive lab pup in the yard. I checked the ordinances and didn't see any. I put up a wire fence with wood corner posts. Solid, looks great, serves a purpose...

    I just got a notice saying I was in violation of "incompatible materials". One of my friendly (or so I thought) neighbors called (anonymously) and complained or else it wouldn't have been a problem. Seems that in our city you can't have wooden posts with a metal fence. To be "legal" I need to have either metal/metal or wood/wood, but I can't mix the two.

    When I spoke to the inspector she said she had been to my house and looked at it herself. "Nice fence" she says - "the only thing wrong is you have wooden corner posts and a metal fence". She gave me some advice on a minor bracing issue and moved my "complaint" to the bottom of the pile and will give me a call if they have any further complaints.

    What kind of junk is this? I build a fence that is nicer (structurally and aesthetically) than most in my neighborhood and someone takes issue with my fence because I have wooden posts and metal fence. I would NEVER compain about someone coming into my neighborhood and making improvements to a nearby house.

    I plan on letting this go for now (per the inspectors advice) but I forsee a future complaint that will force me to take down my fence and put in metal posts.

    I have a real problem with this ordinance because it makes no sense. Requiring matching materials in NO WAY affects the performance of the fence.

    Has anyone else had a similar experiences or do you have any advice?

    GREEN_ALIEN Sunny, Wet, Tornadoey SD!

    Oct 17, 2004
    South Dakota
    Well since the inspector came out I assume this is a city ord. and not a neighborhood CCR?

    If so, the easy solution is to call up the friendly inspector and ask her how to do a variance permit. Most cities differ but there is almost always a little give and take that will allow a common sense variance to occur.

    This is a pet peeve for me... you own the property and you are making it better, the rest can fly a kite. lol on thier own property.

  3. desdawg

    desdawg Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    I have been to a town. Spent a week there one night. Too many rules, too many lines and none of it has to make sense. City people like lines. They stand in lines, drive in lines, wait in lines and then they go home and dream up rules to make their neighbors more acceptable. T'was me, I'd sell out and move to the country. Heaven forbid you should move up in the world and buy a home in a subdivision with a homowners association. Then they would tell you where to park, what colors you can paint and if your car breaks don't be getting those wrenches out. You have that towed and get it worked on somewhere else!
    Actually, I am glad there are city's. Keeps all those orderly minded folks out of the country where people like us can do what we want, when we want, how we want within reasonable limitations. Country people tend to operate more out of common sense and practicality, make do with what is available and generally are just an entire different breed from city people.
    From the sounds of your fence you are qualified for the country. Come and join us!
  4. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

    May 31, 2004
    I agree with the person that suggested asking for a variance. I'm glad you have a fence for your pup!

    We are zoned agricultural here, but there is a subdivision across the road from us with more restrictions than you can imagine -- a boat or RV must not be parked in front; can't have more than two of the same kind of pet; house design has to be approved by teh developer; fences of certain material (I *think*) no gardens. The yards are all more than one acre, the houses are over 2,000 square feet and they cost about $350,000 which is a lot for around here.

    I guess the point is everyone agrees on restrictions so they will protect everyone's property values.

    I also think they think we are white trash ... our house (built much earlier) is only 1,350 square feet; we have an RV, sometimes trucks, sometimes tractors, sometimes wagons, sometimes a skid-loader parked in teh yard; the dog runs loose and so do the chickens :no: and our barn looks like something out of a 3rd world shanty-town.

    But ... they wanted to live in the country!
  5. BeeFree

    BeeFree Well-Known Member Supporter

    Feb 22, 2004
    Ripley Co. Mo

    I couldn't have said it any better myself. Amen

    As far as the fence,I would take some pics and go to a city meeting and see if I couldn't get something changed. If not, perhaps attach some boards to the wire, making it wire and metal, but still pleasing to the eye.
  6. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 6, 2004
    Michigan's thumb
    As said, see if you can get a variance.

    Don't take the finicky neighbor too personally. Some people are compulsively very rule bound. They usually are people who follow rules to the "t" and can't stand to see someone else break even a miner one. This person probably thinks he/she is doing the city a favor. You will probably never understand what his problem is, and he will never understand why you don't keep wood with wood and metal with metal. ** sigh **
  7. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2003
    Missouri, Springfield
    yet another reason I DESPISE the city.

    You pay for your lot but you aren't allowed to do what you want with your lot. Hmm sounds like the city owns your lot so why don't THEY make the mortage payment.

    Man I need to get outta the city....

    I know this doesn't help but hey, at least you know you're not alone in your misery.
  8. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2002
    One idea is to put 1 x 6 boards on the outside of the wire (attached to the wood posts) to make it look like a split rail wood fence. You have the wire there to keep the dog in, but from a distance, it would look like a nice wood fence. We lived in a neighborhood that had fencing rules, and several neighbors did this style with success.

    If you can't get a variance for your fence the way it is, this might be an alternative that would be accepted.
  9. almostthere

    almostthere Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2003
    Is this a declared historical district? If it is, or they're trying to make it one, don't expect things to get any better. I love old houses, and would give my right arm for a big two story with gingerbread and worn out wooden floors. But not where it stands; the 'old' neighborhoods were not taken care of, and to protect the rich history of the area they declare it a historical neighborhood. Maybe there's a list of things that have been banned, so you know how to get arond the complaints?
  10. crabe

    crabe New Member

    Mar 30, 2004
    Thanks for all the replies.

    Yes, this is a city ordinance - not a neighborhood ordinance...

    I spoke with the inspector and she told me just to lie low on this. She has my "complaint" at the bottom of the pile. If I have another complaint they will give me a call and I will have to do something with the fence. Maybe then I will need to present my case to someone.

    I don't plan on just rolling over - this ordinance is rediculous. I could understand their complaint if there were structural problems associated with using wooden posts and wire fence, but there isn't.

    I wonder if this ordinance was enacted to keep individuals from putting up sheet metal for a fence or something? I really think they have taken the ordinance out of context. I just don't understand their reasoning.

    I am not all that worried about this. If I am forced to take the fence down to repair it, I may paint the fence BRIGHT PINK (on their side) to give them something to complain about...HEHEHE!!!

    This is just my first starter home. I have always planned to move back to the country. I grew up living in the country and miss it HORRIBLY. Once I do the updates to the house I will resell - make some money- and find a piece of property in the country.
  11. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2002
    South West MI
    Cloverfarm if I had property across the road from rich people who couldn't have gardens I would be thinking of renting space out. Till it in the spring and fall let e'm grow gardens in between at 1-3$ per square foot.

  12. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 9, 2003
    Good luck, crabe. I could imagine that if someone was petty enough to complain the first time, they will eventually follow up and complain again.

    If the problem resurfaces, you might be able to put metal posts in at say sixteen feet intervals and tension the fabric to the metal posts. Disconnect the fabric from the wood posts. Shim any gaps between wooden and metal posts and put birdhouses on top of the wooden posts. This would give you stand alone all metal fence sections inbetween wooden posts. If the fabric isn't attached to the wooden posts, they surely aren't part of the fence ;) , they're just birdhouse supports.

    Fighting city hall may take more time and money than just dealing with the fence. You're the only one that can decide.
  13. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    "I may paint the fence BRIGHT PINK (on their side) to give them something to complain about...HEHEHE!!!"

    There was a real busybody living on the same block I did several years ago. The man was retired and had nothing to do but read the paper and complain about what the neighbors were doing. Having a party? He'd call the city to report all the cars parked (legally) on the street. Getting ready for a yard sale? He'd call the city to complain about the litter in your yard. Our phone line ran over his yard - we had to pay him for an easement so he would let the phone company into his yard to make some repairs on the phone line.

    One of his next-door neighbors built a wood fence out of some selvadge lumber he picked up. The fence was different types of wood but was well made and sturdy (and perfectly legal). The grouchy guy raised Cain about this eyesore. Called the city to complain and bad talked it to everyone he saw because he had to look at all sorts of different wood next to each other. Well, the next door neighbor finally had enough and painted the outside of the fence the worst bright pinkish-lavender color you ever did see. The grouch got to look at that everyday.

    I don't know if grouchy guy is still living there, but last time I went into Seattle I drove by, and the fence is still the same horrible color.

    I don't miss city life one little bit. You couldn't pay me enough to move back.
  14. wheeezil

    wheeezil Well-Known Member

    Apr 8, 2004
    how about putting a skin of light sheet metal on the posts