Rocky Fork Enterprise

Andalus Drive neighbors embattled over fence

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Gahanna's Planning Commission asked disgruntled neighbors to mend fences, literally, during a Feb. 27 meeting.

Andalus Drive resident Linda Snyder told the commission new neighbor Charles Norris started tearing down the fence between their properties at 9 p.m. May 16.

"We were watching TV and looked out the window, and someone was tearing down the fence," she said.

When her husband asked why he was removing the fence that contained their four dogs, Norris said he didn't purchase his house for their (expletive) dogs. He said he didn't plan to replace the old fence either.

Norris said the fence was his, according to a map on the Franklin County auditor's website.

Because Norris removed part of the fence, Snyder said, she was without a safe and contained place for her dogs.

"I had a gaping fence," she said. "My husband and sons tore down the rest of the fence. We went out and bought new fence."

Snyder said the old fence was constructed by the original owner of her home, and the last post, or 0.06 inch, was identified as being on Norris' property and that was rectified.

During the reconstruction of the fence, she said, Norris demanded she not be on his property.

The distance between the neighbors' homes is only 20 feet, 2 inches, with both having 10 feet, 1 inch from their houses to the property line.

"Without moving the fence several more feet inside the property line, we had to place the cross pieces on Mr. Norris' side in order to stay on our property during the construction of the fence," Snyder said.

The new fence is made of pressure-treated, dog-eared lumber.

She is requesting a variance for the already-built fence, so the supporting members of the fence face the neighboring property.

Zoning administrator Bonnie Gard said the city's code requires that the finished side of the fence be on the outside, facing neighboring properties.

She said Snyder has been upfront about the fence, replacing it with the same size and style.

Snyder said the new fence was in place for six months before Norris had filed a complaint.

Attorneys Jeff Perry and Anthony Mancuso represented Norris at the meeting.

Perry said Norris wants the finished side of the fence facing him.

Snyder said she gladly would have rebuilt the fence that way, but he wouldn't let her on his property.

Norris said he told Gard Snyder was allowed on his property to fix the fence.

Commission member Kristin Rosan asked Perry if Norris would oppose Snyder coming on his property for the purpose of putting up new panels so the finished panel would face Norris' side.

"That's what he would like," Perry said.

Commission member David Andrews asked Norris why he would start taking down a neighbor's fence at 9 p.m.

Norris said it was still light outside, and he didn't realize it was 9 p.m.

Snyder said she already has spent $1,500 on a fence she hadn't planned to replace, and she estimates the request would cost another $500.

"I don't know what to think," she said.

The commission voted to postpone the variance to allow time for the neighbors to come to a resolution.

Rosan said the variance could be denied. If so, Snyder would have little recourse but to completely remove the fence and rebuild it.

Commission member David Thom said the fence is not built according to code.

"We're trying to get it resolved," he said. "One of you will win and one lose with a vote. We're attempting to make a win-win for both parties. As long as it's built to code, he has no recourse."

City attorney Shane Ewald said he would mediate between to the two parties.

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