Wellesley residents looking to install a fence or modify an existing one face a raft of new paperwork and a permit fee under a proposal discussed this week by township councillors.
Currently the bylaw regulates the height and description of fences for the township. The revision would require residents to obtain a permit from the township’s building department prior to construction or alteration of any fence within the settlement area boundaries, with a price tag of $200.
Over the last year there have been numerous requests made to township staff regarding the construction of fences within the settlement both before and after construction. Staff members have been answering questions about location of fences in proximity to property lines, height restrictions and the types of fences that are allowed.
When a fence is erected that does not meet the requirements set out in the current bylaw, staff must spend considerable time to have the issue corrected.
By creating a requirement to obtain a permit prior to erecting or altering a fence staff would be able to review the proposed location, to see that it does not cross or lies on property lines or effects drainage swales, chief building officer Rik Louwagie told councillors meeting Tuesday night in Crosshill.
Fence heights and designs can be checked over by staff to make sure they are following the bylaw, thereby alleviating the problem of altering fences after they are constructed, he explained.
The permit application would require a site plan and construction detail to be provided by the resident, who will also have to determine the location of the lot lines.
Councillors Herb Neher and Shelley Wagner found the fee to be too steep as residents have never had to pay for fence permits before.
Louwagie said the fee was based on staff doing two site visits per fence plus the administration work in the office.
“It doesn’t take long to kill an hour or two at one of these site visits – $200 in my opinion would cover our costs and we would not be making any extra money on that.”
Louwaige was open, however, to suggestions of lowering the fee.
“I have a concern over the entire matter,” said Neher. “People are paying taxes as it is and now it feels as if we are starting to nickel and dime them. I have a small fence that I just put up and now I have to pay for a permit if I want to fix it or change it? I feel that this is just hitting taxpayers with another $200.”
Will McLaughlin, executive director of operations, told council that there has been a fair amount of abuse concerning residents and their fences, and the township does not have any recourse against residents erecting fences unless they go over the height restriction.
“This is all about helping people in the early stages of their fence construction and making sure we do not have to go out and tear down work that has already been completed,” said McLaughlin.
Coun. Jim Olender suggested the amendment be reworked and then brought forward to council with a new fee, adding $200 was too much and people are already complaining about having to pay a permit fee to install decks on their property.
“There seems to be more and more fences being put up year after year and though I am flexible on the fee I feel it is always a good idea to have a policy regarding details like these,” said Mayor Ross Kelterborn.
Council deferred making a decision on the amendment until more information was available to them and the $200 charge was re-adjusted.