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Alexandria enacts new fence rules

Building a fence in Alexandria will soon require some extra steps.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the Alexandria City Council approved a new ordinance to regulate fences.

0 Talk about it

The purpose: To prevent fences that would be a hazard to the public or an unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of neighboring property.

It’s also designed to ensure that fences are compatible with existing uses and other zoning regulations.

Some highlights of the new ordinance:

•Starting January 1, 2014, residents will need a permit to build a fence (boundary or partition). The fee will be determined at a later date.

•The permit must include a survey certificate that clearly describes the location of the proposed fence. Property lines must also be verified.

•In residential areas, fences can’t be more than six feet high in back and side yards, or more than four feet high in the front yard.

•Fences must be residential in nature, such as chain-link, wrought iron, vinyl or board and picket.

•Fences that are made from maintenance-free materials or can be maintained within the perimeter of the fence, may be constructed on the side or rear yard property line. If it requires maintenance, the fence must be built no closer than two feet from the property line.

•Barbed wire fences are prohibited but a conditional use permit to build one can be obtained for essential service structures.

•Snow fences are prohibited in residential districts from April through October (unless for marking tree preservation areas).

•No fence may obstruct natural drainage.

•Ornamental and/or privacy fences that enclose only a limited portion of a yard (25 percent) are allowed without a permit. Maximum heights are three feet for a brick wall, four feet for split-rail, picket or wrought iron and six feet for a privacy fence around a patio, hot tub or pool.

Existing fences that don’t comply with the new ordinance will be allowed but they can’t be enlarged, extended or reconstructed unless they meet the new requirements.

AUDIT DISCUSSION SPARKS DEBATE The most contentious part of Tuesday’s meeting, however, didn’t have anything to do with fences. It came during a discussion of the audit fees that were being proposed by CliftonLarsonAllen. Council member Virgil Batesole said he met with an auditor from the company and found out that the audit does not look into whether the city is in compliance with its charter and other legislative controls for financial procedures.

Mayor Sara Carlson told Batesole that he was out of order. When Batesole objected to being interrupted, Carlson told him that she, not Batesole, was chairing the meeting. She told Batesole he had no authorization to meet with the city auditor on his own and that if the city is billed for the time the company spent answering Batesole’s questions, Batesole would have to pay for it. She also told Batesole that the city charter states that the city is required to do an audit, only an audit.

After the council unanimously approved CliftonLarsonAllen’s $45,900 fee to perform the city’s 2013 audits, which is the same amount as last year, Carlson and Batesole clashed again. Carlson reminded the entire council that they should not be independently going to the city attorney or accountant without the council’s prior approval. She cautioned that it would cost taxpayers money. Batesole disagreed and told Carlson she was out of order. Carlson responded with a bang of the gavel and told him, “I have the floor and you are out of order, sir.”

The council then moved on to other agenda items. See Wednesday’s Echo Press for more council news.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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