Council Approves First Reading Of Fence-Like Hedge Ordinance
West U City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that will require residents to take down fence-like hedges to 36 inches by Dec. 1, 2014.
The proposed ordinance would make changes to three areas of the city’s zoning code. One change would require doors or gates in fences made of masonry or stone for emergency personnel. Another change clears up the definition of “visibility triangles,” areas where the city restricts landscaping and other objects to protect drivers’ visibility. The third change includes bringing down hedges, foliage that has characteristics of a fence and grows higher than 36 inches, down to three feet.
The ordinance would allow access to all sides of buildings so firefighters or emergency personnel can enter the building, use ladders and fight fires.
West U residents spoke against the proposed ordinance during two public hearings held in March and December of 2009.
The ordinance would affect less than 10 West U single-family homes, said City Planner Debbie Scarcella.
The ordinance limits the height of hedges in the front yard on adjacent side yard properties and rear through lot sites without a principal structure, or an empty lot, according to the ZPC’s report.
Scarcella said some resident’s fence-like hedges are eight to 12 feet tall and this ordinance would ensure that no more are built.
Any fence-like hedges planted in the front yard after Dec. 1, 2009 would have to be three feet or less to conform to the code.
“I am convinced that this is good public policy,” Councilmember George Boehme said.
Boehme said he would like to give residents more time to comply with the new ordinance and proposed an amendment to change the date from Dec. 1, 2014 to Dec. 1, 2019.
Mayor Bob Kelly said he thought 10 years was too long because the hedges would just get bigger.
The amendment failed three-to-two for the change in compliance date.
This is the first of two readings that need to be approved by council before the ordinance goes into effect.