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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Zoning Board of appeals will no longer have to meet for a variance request to allow a black vinyl-coated steel chain link fence.
The Colfax Village Board approved adding black vinyl-coated steel chain link fences to the village’s fence ordinance at the August 14 meeting.
Prior to the village board meeting, which was at 7 p.m., the Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals met at 5:30 p.m. to take action on a variance request from Sally Kiekhafer, 101 Viking Drive, for a black vinyl-coated steel chain link fence.
Sally Kiekhafer has a puppy, and he is growing, and she wants an enclosure for her yard so she can put him outside when she needs a break, said Mike Kiekhafer, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The chain link fence would be part of the yard, and on the other side, Kiekhafer is planning to put up cedar privacy fencing, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.
Gene Gibson, BOA member, said he had no objection to the vinyl-coated steel chain link fence and noted that by his property, there is 300 feet of chain link fence put up by the school district.
Kiekhafer’s neighbors had been notified of the request for a variance, and no public comments have been received about the request, Niggemann said
This is the fourth time the Zoning Board of Appeals has met about black chain-link fences, she noted,
The Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved the Kiekhafer request for a variance at 101 Viking Drive for the black vinyl-coated steel chain link fence.
In addition to Kiekhafer and Gibson, Richard Bautch, Mark Mosey and Jason Johnson serve on the Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals.
At a previous meeting, the Colfax Village Board had discussed the possibility of adding a provision to the ordinance that all boundary fences should be placed three feet off the property line.
Rather than placing the boundary fence on the property line, a space of a few feet would leave room for people to maintain their fences without stepping onto their neighbor’s property, village board members said.
The section added to the village’s fence ordinance states that the boundary fence must be placed three off the property line — or it may be closer if there is a written, recorded agreement between the adjacent property owners.
State law makes a distinction between property line fences and boundary fences. A boundary fence may be on the property line, but a fence that is intended as a boundary fence cannot be called a property line fence.
The Colfax Village Board engaged in virtually no discussion about the boundary fences at the August 14 meeting.
The village board also had very little discussion about black vinyl-coated steel chain link fences at the August 14 meeting.
The wording of the village’s ordinance, as well as the addition to the ordinance, seems confusing.
“No woven, twisted, welded or interlaced wire fence shall be located in a Residential District, unless such fencing is ornamental in character, including the black vinyl-coated steel chain link fence.”
Ornamental is defined as “attractive or beautiful rather than useful” or is defined as “for decoration only.”
People who have applied for variances for a black vinyl-coated chain link fence over the past several years have said they wanted the fence to keep their dogs in their yard or to ensure that small children do not wander off into the street.
Installing a black vinyl-coated steel chain link fence to keep dogs and children safe serves a useful purpose and is not for decoration only, so it does seem not entirely clear what the village ordinance is intending to allow or prohibit.
Likewise, it would seem that the school district’s chain link fence would serve the purpose of keeping students on school property instead of being installed just for decoration.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved the changes to the fence ordinance (Section 13-1-142 Fences).