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.
The Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees Monday, July 23 unanimously approved a new fence law after two months of revisions shaped by public concerns.
Unlike previous board meetings, there were no public comments regarding the fence law revisions on July 23. 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.”
Here are the highlights from the village’s amended law for fencing, retaining walls and hedges:
•A “garden fence’ is defined as a fence that is used to protect gardens from animals. Garden fences shall only enclose areas dedicated to the growing of fruits, vegetables and ornamental flowers. Temporary garden fences may only be erected between April 15 and Oct. 15 and may only be constructed of materials commonly used for such applications but are otherwise exempt from the provisions of this chapter. Permanent garden fences shall require a building permit, may be constructed of materials commonly used for such applications, and may not exceed 8 feet in height or be located in the architectural front yard as defined in this section, and shall otherwise be subject to the provisions of this chapter.
•A “retaining wall” is defined as a wall 3 feet tall or higher that resists lateral pressures and limits lateral displacement caused by soil, rock, water or other materials, except that basement and vault walls that are part of a building or an underground structure shall not be considered retaining walls.
•Prior to the construction of any fence or retaining wall a building permit shall be obtained.
•Fences shall be constructed of a common type such as split rail, picket, chain link or stockade. Fences shall have the most pleasant or decorative side facing adjacent properties.
•Fence height shall be measured from the lowest point of the natural grade of the property.
•No fence over 4 feet in height shall be erected or maintained in the architectural front yard. The “architectural front yard” shall be defined as the yard facing the side of the building containing the architectural main entrance to the house. For a waterfront lot, the architectural front yard shall be defined as the yard facing the street.
•No fence over 6 feet in height shall be erected or maintained in any rear yard or side yard; no fence over 5 feet in height shall be erected or maintained in the front yard not considered the architectural front yard.
•No stockade-type or privacy fence shall be allowed in any front yard or the side yard of a corner lot.
•All fences shall be maintained in good repair. Every fence shall be maintained in a safe, sound and upright position. No fence shall be erected which will create a safety problem for people using the public right-of-way.
•Fences shall not be erected within 2 feet of a publicly owned curb or sidewalk and shall not be erected within a public right-of-way.
•On industrial or commercial properties, proposed fences not in conformance with the provisions of Subsection C shall be approved by the Planning Board under site plan review.
•No solid fences, retaining walls or hedges over 26 inches in height shall be permitted in the triangular area formed by the intersecting street lines and a straight line joining the street lines at points which are 20 feet in distance from the point of intersection measured along the street lines. Measurement of height shall be made from the grade of the abutting top of curb or from the crown of the abutting road, if there is no curbing. Split-rail fences or other similarly open fences are permitted in the triangular area and are permitted to be 36 inches in height provided that they do not create a traffic hazard and block visibility. No hedge over 3 feet in height shall be planted or maintained in this same triangular area.
•Barbed wire, electrical or similar materials or devices may only be used in conjunction with or as part of any fence for limited industrial and utility purposes. Any proposed fence that includes use of such materials shall require site plan review.
•No fence shall be permitted which is expressly designed with the intent to injure or maim anyone who attempts to climb such a fence.
•Fences and retaining walls shall not be erected in or encroach upon a public right-of-way.
•Existing stone retaining walls shall be preserved to the maximum extent practicable. Prior to the demolition or removal of a stone retaining wall, a demolition permit shall be obtained. The code enforcement officer shall only issue a demolition upon determination that the existing wall is unsafe and cannot be reasonably repaired.
•Retaining walls shall be constructed of natural or manufactured stone, concrete or wood.