Part of this new fence erected at Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn at Lake Flower Avenue was being taken down Monday, June 25 after some residents complained in the local media.
Members of the Saranac Lake Village Board Monday, June 25 tabled their adoption of a new fence law for the second time in a month.
Since unveiling the amended fence law in May, residents have commented on its regulations and asked many questions. Concerns include a 2-foot setback, temporary fencing for gardens and snow, and whether existing fences are “grandfathered.”
After their public hearing on May 29, Village Board members tabled the motion to approve the fence law pending revisions. And with those changes in hand June 25, trustees again decided to hold off. This time, board members are weighing questions arising from a new unpopular fence recently erected on the Lake Flower shoreline at Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn.
“As we all know, there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the fence that has gone up at Gauthier’s, and quite frankly it brought up some issues that I hadn’t considered prior to this, and I think it would be prudent for us to step back and take a look again at what we’ve come up with and to get it right the first time,” said Trustee Barbara Rice.
Workers were seen taking down some of the fence at Gauthier’s on Monday.
During the public comment period at the June 25 meeting, two residents had questions and concerns about the fence law.
Helene Nessenthaler, of Lake Street, asked if putting up orange plastic snow fencing on the corner of her property would be OK. She has the temporary fence during the winter to protect her property from snowplow damage.
She also asked about deer fencing.
“We have a problem on Lake Street with deer,” she said. “And they nibble through the fences (on cedar trees, hydrangea and other plantings).”
“What about the hostas?” asked Mayor Clyde Rabideau. “They really go after the hostas.”
“They can’t get to the hostas,” she said. “My hostas are safe; they’re closer to the house.”
This year, the deer are more of problem, according to Nessenthaler.
“They’re everywhere,” she said. “At one point, we had one deer jump over the garden fence between my house and my neighbor’s, and it looked like a Wild West show. I was out there. I had an old wash line. I was trying to scare it to go through the gate to get it up through, and it was an adventure.”
She also asked if placing a new gate along the fence would be subject to the fence law regulations.
Rabideau asked Community Development Director Jeremy Evans to answer those questions, and he started with snow fencing.
“Under the proposed law, that would not be permitted, but under extenuating circumstances, I think we would work with somebody at DPW to work something temporarily,” Evans said. “Deer fencing would require a permit and would be subject to the height limits that are proposed. And technically I think the gate would be part of the fence and thus would be subject to the regulations of the fence.”
Colleen Gowan, who lives around Moody Pond, said she’s thankful for the 6-foot height requirement because she’s not been happy with one of her neighbor’s fences. She also favors a 2-foot setback, which is not currently written into the amended fence law.
“I believe there has to be a 2-feet setback, especially if neighbors are putting up fences because they don’t get along or they don’t like you, then you really don’t want to be on each other’s property,” Gowan said. “And the fence would have to be maintained, repaired, painted, stained, what have you.”
Gowan also said there should be a condition in the law regarding natural looking fences that blend into nature when placed against the forest.
“Obviously if it’s a picket fence, a yard fence or whatever on a neighborhood yard, that’s one thing, but when it’s right up against nature, I hope that’s taken into account,” Gowan said.
Evans answered Nessenthaler’s question about existing fences conforming with the new law.
“If a fence is up right now, then it’s in conformance,” Evans said. “It would be grandfathered, so there’s no need for the village to go around and look to see if fences meet the new law because it will only be subject to new fences.”