By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — If you own a swimming pool in Colfax, you must have a fence built around it.
The Colfax Village Board approved an update for the village’s swimming pool ordinance at the May 26 meeting that requires a fence of a minimum of four feet if you already have a fence around your swimming pool and a minimum of six feet if you are installing a new pool or a new fence.
The issue of enforcing the fence requirement for the swimming pool ordinance has come before the village board several times in the last several years. The ordinance has always required a fence around either above-ground or in-ground pools, although over the years, there have been above-ground pools in backyards in Colfax without fences.
In the past, village board members debated whether to enforce the pool ordinance. The village’s attorney advised that if the village was not going to enforce the ordinance, it might be best to repeal it and have no ordinance at all.
Village board members have now decided that requiring a fence is a safety issue.
The village’s swimming pool ordinance applies to above ground pools and in-ground pools that are deeper than 18 inches.
The ordinance does not apply to children’s wading pools up to 15 feet in diameter with a maximum depth of 15 inches.
Village Trustee Dave Wolff said he had heard on the Twin Cities news about two little boys who had climbed over a fence into a swimming pool, and both of them were near drownings.
Village Trustee Susan Olson said she had heard another news report about the incident, that the boys were brothers, and that one had gone home from the hospital but one was still unconscious.
Village Trustee Annie Schieber said she has been watching for swimming pools on drives around the countryside and noticed many of them.
Schieber said every pool she has seen has had a fence — even those swimming pools located in rural areas.
For safety reasons, you want fences to prevent incidents like the one in the Twin Cities, said Village Trustee Mark Halpin.
Village board members noted that homeowners’ insurance companies probably require fences around swimming pools for liability reasons.
At the first meeting in May, village board members asked Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, and Colfax Police Chief William Anderson to research fines for violations of the pool ordinance.
According to information Police Chief Anderson supplied to the village board, the fine for a first violation of the ordinance is $169.
The fine for a second violation within 12 months is $200.50, and the fine for a third violation in 12 months is $263.50.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved the update to the swimming pool ordinance.
The ordinance will go into effect upon publication in the Colfax Messenger.