After a garden fence became problematic because of the village's fence parameters, the Elm Grove Village Board decided it was time to revisit the requirements placed on fences. This particular fence, mentioned by President Neil Palmer at last week's board meeting, qualified as a non-decorative fence because it was longer than 40 feet in total length.
The specific fence is less relevant than what it represents as a possible problem with the village's code, officials said.
The ordinance, which has strict requirements about height and visibility, was not designed to cover garden fences or other decorative fences. With large plots and significant landscaping a part of so many properties in Elm Grove, village officials said they feel a new ordinance may be necessary to allow residents to protect their plants from animals.
Decorative fences still require a permit and proper zoning, but are not beholden to the same requirements as non-decorative fences.
Perimeter fences can be no taller than 6 1/2 feet and 50 percent of their space must be open for air to pass through. Chain-link fences, however, are not permitted in any case.
This could work against some changes to accommodate larger garden fences because chicken wire or bailing wire are commonly used to protect gardens from rabbits and other animals.
The ordinance does specifically prohibit barbed-wire fences, but offers little specificity beyond that. The Legislative Committee, which will review the ordinance, will be asked to find a balance, or at least find the proper words to delineate one type of fence from another.
One approach could be to alter the length of what is considered a "decorative" fence, or to simply remove the length requirement all together. It may also be problematic to add language about fences along property lines since many gardens or landscaping run along property lines, particularly in backyards.
There is no early indication as to how the village will reconcile the issue, only that it will attempt to do so. The Elm Grove Village Board will meet at the end of this month, the earliest an approval of any changes could be made.
However, it's not certain a reasonable alternative will be presented at that time.
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