Archive for Thursday, June 30, 2005

Fence-building without permit draws interest of city officials

June 30, 2005

Fence companies are testing the patience of Lansing city officials.

During Thursday's City Council meeting, Public Works director John Young described how the city had been alerted to a fence being constructed in a yard in the 600 block of Ida Street. The work was being done by a fence company without a required city permit and in violation of the city's setback requirements.

"We told them they needed to cease," Young told council members, but "the contractor went ahead and completed the fence."

Through the years, Young told council members, the city has endured "numerous" incidences in which contractors and property owners have ignored the need for the $15 city permit before erecting a fence. Often, Young said, those fences also are put up with disregard for requirements laid out in the city code.

"If we continue to have this kind of problem, we may have to end up getting into some sort of occupational licensing," Young said. "You'd have to have a license to do that work (in the city).

"That way, if you have a repeat offender, you could pull the licensing for them to do work in the city."

Young said the city recently sent out letters to area fence companies to remind them it was a violation to erect a fence without first obtaining a city permit.

One of the city's remedies can be to tear down any fence put up without a permit, though that hasn't been ordered in any of the cases.

Mayor Kenneth Bernard said in the case brought before the council Thursday night, the contractor was at fault - not the homeowner. Council members voted 6-2 to issue the fence permit and allow it to stand as built. Council members Dee Hininger and Harland Russell voted against the motion.

Though the council didn't act on the idea of creating an occupational license, Bernard said he wanted to send a strong message to fence contractors.

"We need to make it clear: If it happens in the future, we will make them tear it down."

This week, the city posted on its Web site a "news flash" from the Community Development Department. In it, the department reminded residents of the necessity of a permit when erecting a fence anywhere in the city and the section from the city code regarding fencing.

In other action Thursday, the council:

¢ Approved minutes from the June 2 council meeting. Council member Bob Ulin, who did not attend the June 2 meeting, abstained.

¢ Awarded contracts for the rehabilitation of homes under the Community Development Block Grant program to Santa Fe Siding, Overbrook, in the amount of $3,030, and Besel's Roofing and Heating, Leavenworth, in the amounts of $5,580 and $27,281.

¢ Met in executive session for 10 minutes to discuss attorney-client privileged information, then reconvened and voted to direct the mayor to continue with unspecified negotiations.

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