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Fences May Rise in Front Yards Citywide and Descend in Backyards, Along Saltwater Canals

| April 1, 2015

The sort of fencing that may soon be allowed throughout Palm Coast, in front yards. (Palm Coast)

The sort of fencing that may soon be allowed throughout Palm Coast, in front yards. (Palm Coast)

Currently prohibited, front-yard fences may be coming to Palm Coast, but with several restrictions. And backyard fences near saltwater canals may see greater regulations, as the city seeks to balance a measure of transparency with property owners’ privacy concerns. The aim is to keep fences from turning into visually polluting blockages, and to ensure that fences comply with code and safety regulations, or ease of access to properties during emergencies.

Front yards won’t change much even with the newly allowed fencing.

A white picket fence, for example, could line the side of a lot, but not the front side of a lot paralleling the street. In other words, no enclosed front yards allowed. The fence must be no higher than 3 feet. The fence may not be a solid wall of material: at least 50 percent of its structure must be “open” in such a way that the eye can see through to the other side. Chain link fences are still prohibited regardless. And fences must be set off from property lines by at least 5 feet. The set-back is a preference of public works, so there’s no interference with swales and other infrastructure.

That doesn’t mean that all types of fences are otherwise prohibited: some low-lying, very limited landscape fencing has been and is still allowed, as when it partially frames a tree bed, for example, or a copse of trees.

“We’re actually relaxing the criteria, trying to allow for more flexibility,” City Manager Jim Landon said, “without a major change.”

Council member Steven Nobile went on a recent exploration of home-improvement stores. “It was hard to find a 3-foot fence of any significance,” he said. Fences tend to start at 4 feet.

“These aren’t intended to be barriers,” Landon said, leaving the way open for setting the fence height between 3 and 4 feet.

Backyard fences have been allowed, and will continue to be allowed. But the city may more strictly regulate backyard fences that abut saltwater canals in the F and C Sections. Mayor Jon Netts lives on one such property. (Remaining canals in the city are freshwater.) The aim is to lower the height of certain fences in certain places.

Relaxing fencing regulations up front, making them stricter in certain C and F-Section backyards.

Why the difference between saltwater and freshwater canals? The answer is not necessarily precise: “If you’re in a saltwater canal, the atmosphere seems to be much more wide open,” Landon said. “When you’re in a freshwater canal, there’s still a lot of lots that have woods. It just doesn’t have that open feeling. I remember when I looked at a house and I stepped outside the yard on a saltwater canal I could see all the neighbors on the other side and it just felt like I was out in an open area. I go in a freshwater canal area and it just had a whole different feel.”

“If it becomes an issue on the freshwater canals, we’ll address it,” Netts said.

“And if you hear that it is an issue, freshwater, let us know, but we haven’t heard that.”

“I haven’t heard of it being an issue on the saltwater canals except in one or two cases,” council member Bill McGuire said.

That’s how rare it is, Landon said, and it’s usually a result of spite between neighbors. “It’s not just fences,” Landon said. “It’s amazing what people will do when they get in a feud with their neighbors.”

Here’s the picture in backyards along saltwater fences, and how it may change: Currently, property owners may install chainlink fences or solid fences that block all views, and have those fences rise up to 6 feet. New regulations would require that any solid, non-transparent fencing that falls within 20 feet of the setback from a saltwater canal be no higher than 4 feet. Open fences could keep their current heights.

Jim Landon. (Palm Coast)

Jim Landon. (Palm Coast)

“It provides that privacy if that’s what you’re looking for,” Landon said, “but as soon as you get into the setback area, which is usually where you can’t have buildings, there’s different criteria, that’s where you have to step it down.” From a code enforcement standpoint, Landon said, “it’s very logical for us.”

This is barely the first step in the regulatory process. The city administration was looking for the council’s direction on the proposed regulations. The council approved. Next, the administration will draft the new code regulations and submit them to the planning board, which will either recommend their approval or reject them, though that vote is non-binding on the council. It’ll be up to the council to vote in the regulations. Along the way, the public will get a chance to address either body, and perhaps trigger more amendments.

None of the current homeowners in compliance with the current code will be affected by the changes. They’ll be grandfathered in. “If they are in compliance and you change the law, you can’t make them bring it into compliance” with the new regulations, Landon said.

“Does it make everybody happy? No,” Mayor Jon Netts said. “But it seems to be a reasonable compromise and there is some basis in historical land use planning that supports this.”

Palm Coast Fencing Regulations, Proposed (2015)

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14 Responses for “Fences May Rise in Front Yards Citywide and Descend in Backyards, Along Saltwater Canals”

  1. YankeeExPat says:

    Your lawn guy will Love you for this one

  2. Nikia says:

    What is the point if you can’t line the front?

  3. Col. Armory says:

    Well if I can’t have a fence around my house, can I dig a MOAT and put a few alligators in it. Seems Palm Coast has become a criminals dream city. No fences, open view, Lots of running area.

  4. Well, the front yard fences are fine…I don’t see an issue either way but what is the point of forcing less privacy on homes on the salt water canal? I read it twice and I have no clue why you would do that.

  5. I still don’t under stand for the life of me how people can tell you what you can do with your land when there are no HOA

  6. Bon Bell says:

    Dear god…we’ve done so well with the ugly mishegas of BACK yard fences …we now want to export that “eclectic” sensibility to the thousands upon thousands of FRONT yards in our perfectly beautiful already front yards?

    We need to grow our job numbers/salaries…we need to feed our hungry, house our homeless and face that Florida sea levels are rising….yet you all have enough time/resources to sail off into this wholly unnecessary quagmire of cutting hundreds/thousands of Palm Coasters loose in HD & Lowes fencing dept… for what ! ? Why ! ? Think this would also really, really strain the ole ‘Love thy neighbor’ ideal we’re aiming for here.

    Oh…I get it…APRIL FOOLS !

    Very funny. Now hit the DELETE button on this ‘what the heck?’ ridiculous ‘front yard fencing’ idea.

  7. There are way too many rules and regulations in Palm coast just one of the many reasons I moved. It’s a shame,it’s a nice looking town

    • Bon Bell says:

      Rules – that’s what makes Palm coast ‘a nice looking town’…business owners see it as a place where they would like to live and start or relocate their company.

  8. downinthelab says:

    I could use some help, wife wants to put in a line of bushes in the front yard, just inside the swale, about four feet high, across the whole front yard. Is that going to fly?

  9. Barbara says:

    The problem is that the laws that need enforcing they do not enforce. People and their dogs, and cats they let run loose and mess in your yards. Then they don’t want you to put up a fence. I would like to put up a brick or block fence all around my property. Arizona has the right idea they have block for their yards that way there is no wood to rot. People are different there; they respect their neighbor. They don’t try and freeload off of what they do to improve their property. This five feet from the property line that only works if you are not white. They can put up fences and bring them as close as they want to your fence so that they can save money by not having to put up one on one side and steal the use of yours. Don’t bother complaining to the city they won’t do anything if the person who is doing it is white they will only tell you that it is a civil matter. I think we could do without all these so called leaders and do what we want to our property. If i could get 200 thousand for my home i would sell tomorrow and leave this God forsaken city and move somewhere were more suitable for minority.

  10. Barbara says:

    Bon Bell
    The only businesses that seem to be coming here are fast food restaurants. The ones that don’t pay anything much. With no jobs who can really afford to go to any. The type of businesses that are needed are not here and probably never will be. Face the facts this is not a place big companies want to come. There is simply nothing to bring them here. Except maybe some over paid city leaders who do nothing to earn these big salaries. From what I have heard the rules on what type sign these business can put up is also a problem, so why come to a place where you already know that you are not going to make it, when you can go to a city where your chance of growing your business is much better and probably cheaper than one that can’t even take care of the problem in their own city.

  11. Barbara says:

    Downinthrlab That may work. if you are white if not forget it. The neighbor next door to me who is white hedge are higher than my fence in the back yard and her’s are in the front. She for some reason cut them down as they was like trees for the three and a half years i have lived here. Very seldom do you shape them they grow back fast.

  12. Barbara says:

    Dave very funny but a good idea especially for bad neighbors and their dogs and cats send some my way. Do you think Mr. Jim Landon have pets that he let run all over messing on other people’s property why he is so dead set against fences, or is he some kind of peeping tom who just want to see what other have going or doing in their yards? Is freedom of speech still allowed? Is wanting privacy a crime? Just because he feels that open space is good for him does not mean it is good for someone else. I say let those who want fences put them up and those who don’t want them leave their property as is.

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