Thursday, July 25, 2024

Bridgeport City Council proposes mandatory fence permits

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BRIDGEPORT – The Bridgeport City Council discussed amending the municipal code to require a fence permit during its regular monthly meeting on June 18. The proposed change aims to ensure that fences do not obstruct off-street parking spaces, which are mandatory for all residential properties in the city.

“Right now, it is not required to have a fencing permit,” said Mayor Sergio Orozco opening the discussion.

Superintendent of Public Works Stuart Dezellem explained the mandatory permit may be necessary.

“The city has operated off a volunteer system, and the fence permit came with no cost,” said Dezellem. “It was this way when I came to work for the city 17 years ago.”

Lately, the city has been trying to encourage more off-street parking on residential property to help clear the city rights-of-way for easier snow removal, weed spraying, and other street maintenance work,

“Reading the code one day, I realized that there is an off-street parking requirement,” said Dezellem. “Property owners must provide an open space for two vehicles.”

To provide that space, fences must include an access opening for vehicle parking.

Recently a new customer wanted to surround his entire property with a fence. Dezellem denied permit because the fence did not include the two off-street parking sites. The customer discovered that the BMC as written does not mandate a fence permit, therefore he is free to build the fence he prefers.

“If we do not have a permit, we cannot interact with the customer about the fence,” said Dezellem. “We must change the code and mandate the fence permit, and if it’s mandated, it’s probably going to come with a cost.”

Mayor Sergio Orozco agrees that a mandated permit will require staff time to monitor and will cost money.

Both the mayor and Dezellem clarified that the city is not trying to discourage property fences.

 “A fence is one of the best ways to minimize dogs running at large,” said Dezellem. “But the fence cannot obstruct the off-street parking space.”

Councilmember Matthew Schuh recommended that staff draft an addition to the existing ordinance clarifying the off-street parking and permit requirements for review at its July meeting. 

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483 or michael@ward.media

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