City discusses possible amendments to front fencing at residences

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The City of Friendswood is looking into making changes to the code regarding the extension of fencing of any sort in front of the front building line for residential lots in the city that do not front TxDOT roadways.

A workshop discussion was held on this topic at the recent City Council meeting. Councilmember John Scott had the item placed on the agenda. Assistant City Manager Morad Kabiri presented the information at the meeting.

The current language in Section 8.2 of the Zoning Ordinance requires that property owners must have a minimum of a two-acre lot in order to extend fencing, walls or hedges of any sort in front of the front building line.

This limitation was placed on properties in 1996 in an effort to avoid line of sight issues along roads in the city and to avoid barriers creating an uninviting view along the streets.

The two-acre requirement has caused problems among a number of property owners over the years that have fallen short of this figure by fractions of an acre. In an effort to address this issue, Kabiri reported that staff had recently proposed code changes to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“At the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Kabiri said. “Staff had presented a proposal to the city similar to that of neighboring communities to allow for decorative fencing beyond the front building line. Front fences must be decorative in nature, must not be opaque and cannot be above a certain height. There are many lots in the city that currently do not meet the two-acre requirement and some have planted hedges that do not meet the requirement. It is time for Council to consider if they want to make amendments to the code regarding this topic.”

Scott encouraged the group to lower the lot size to one acre instead of two and have the fences not exceed four feet in height.

“We need to change our requirements. It doesn’t make sense we are restricting it to two acres. Most areas have HOAs and deed restrictions to govern this type of thing,” Scott said. “We need to lower it to one acre instead of two acres as it is now. We don’t need to have to be in the business of taking down fences.”

Mayor Kevin Holland who had served on the Planning and Zoning Committee for nine years was familiar with the problems. He suggested acreage was not the way to change the ordinance but rather two acres or more than 120 feet of frontage on a property could have front fencing if desired and it followed the other requirements.

Other council members commented in favor of Holland’s suggestion.

Kabiri will bring the item for action at a later meeting with the ideas from this workshop discussion.

Story by Karolyn Gephart

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