Fair to get a fence variance?
I posted this on the deck forum too. Really need some legal advice, I think.
We hired a landscaper to put up an L shaped fence on one corner of our back yard. We love it. Friends and neighbors love it. It was purchased at a local fencing company and the quality is beautiful. It is 4 and 1/2 feet tall with 1 1/2 feet of open spindles at the top. Prior to installation, we questioned the fencing company, the landscaper, phoned the zoning office in town, and looked at the zoning regulations on- line for fencing regulations in our city. What we learned was that fences are limited to 4 feet in height in the front yard, and 6 in the side yard. We placed it in the back and side yard.
Well, Friday, we received a letter from zoning saying that because we are on a corner lot, they consider our side yard to be like a front yard. It does say that somewhere in their regulations, but does not refer to it under the fencing regulations! Of course, we did not know about this prior to installing the fence.
They say that we can try to fight it by getting a variance, but the variance inquiry will cost $135.00 and ALMOST NEVER do they grant it. (according to them) In fact, a neighbor 1 block away just changed his fence for that reason. We did not know about that situation, because there was a change of owners, it was a long time ago that the fence was taken down, and we just assumed it was the new owner's choice. Just recently, he put up a smaller fence.
Our somewhat small section of fencing, cost us thousands! It faces a baseball field, not a house on the part that aligns the street, and does not at all block any view.
Here is the kicker... We came to put up the fencing, because there have been so many accidents in this stretch of road, that we put a small stone wall on the front corner and a fence on the back (to serve as both protection and give us some privacy) In fact we had one car hit our home 3 years ago.
We can go ahead and try to fight it, but I am worried. I love having this beautiful fence to look at, to have some privacy and a little security. There was another accident just days after we put up the fence, and the car came within a foot of the fence. We spoke with the zoning office today and they advised us to go to police dept to get records of the accidents. Just as we reached home, some man came and took pictures of the arrow signs the city police put up after the car hit our house. I am worried that the city zoning will not grant us the variance, because they (the city) do not want to admit that there is a danger. ... liability. What do you think? I am thinking lawyer is the only way.