Hagerstown postpones discussion of fence

Executor of house where dogs live requests amendment to ordinance

Executor of house where dogs live requests amendment to ordinance

January 16, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN ? The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday agreed to postpone discussing a woman's request to amend an ordinance that would allow residents to install front-yard fences under certain circumstances.

Karin Anderson, a Takoma Park, Md., resident and executor of a house at 820 Marion St., asked the council at a Tuesday work session to amend the ordinance.

City officials had told her that she would have to move a fence in the front yard of the property 25 feet from the sidewalk. She told the council that the order was ridiculous because moving the fence would place it down the middle of the front yard.

"If I have to move the fence ... I'm going to put a sign up that says the fence is in the middle of the yard because of the laws," Anderson said.


Any resident wishing to install a fence in a front yard in the city must obtain special permission to do so.

Anderson said the fence is in the front yard about 5 feet from the sidewalk and needs to stay there so three dogs who live at the home will have a place to exercise. The house has no back yard, she said.

Anderson acquired the home in the name of her friend, Ken Kemper, who appointed her one of the executors of his estate before he died of cancer in 2006. As part of a trust, Anderson was required to find a home for the dogs. They now live with a caretaker at the home on Marion Street.

Mayor, councilwoman say fence is fine

Councilman Martin Brubaker said the city's Board of Zoning Appeals, the city and others already suggested that the fence should be moved. There is no reason for the council not to honor those recommendations, he said.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said the railed fence, which is about 6 feet tall, is fine where it is.

"I don't have problem one with that fence," Nigh said.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner proposed that city code enforcement officials delay enforcing the law in this case and reconsider the matter after budget talks wrap up in the summer. "There are some things you try to work on ... There is an in-between," he said.

After the meeting, Anderson said the issue, at least in her case, wouldn't matter in about three years, because the elderly dogs probably wouldn't live much longer.

"Hopefully, (the council) will realize the situation is unique," she said. "I appreciate their willingness to work through this."

Residents can be fined up to $1,000 a day for violating the fence ordinance, City Planning Director Kathleen Maher said.

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