Rocky Fork Enterprise

Planning Commission

Variance needed for resident's privacy fence -- seven years after it was installed

Because city made error, council being asked to waive $150 fee

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A fence installation error made seven years ago is being brought to task by the city of Gahanna.

The Planning Commission on March 26 approved a variance to allow a privacy fence to be erected in a side yard at 220 Cam Court by applicant Lori Deas.

When a neighbor wanted to erect a fence along the same plane as Deas' fence last summer, the city was made aware of the error, Bonnie Gard, planning and zoning administrator, said in a letter to the commission.

She said the permit issued in 2006 illustrated the location of the fence to be constructed from the rear corners of the house to the rear property line. At that time, Gard said, the zoning office didn't perform final fence inspections so the error wasn't caught.

Deas said she used Fence Specialists in 2006 to install the privacy fence, and the contractor had applied for a permit.

"I thought I was in compliance when I put up the fence," she said. "I found out from the inspector it wasn't in compliance. It took time to track down the fence contractors."

Commission member Kristin Rosan asked why the city found the error so long afterward.

"It seems odd to me to find it seven years later," she said. "There are others not in compliance in the city. Why was it being pursued?"

Development director Anthony Jones said the city's code enforcement responds to complaints, or sometimes it's an observation.

Deas said no city inspection was done after the fence was installed, and she didn't receive any complaints from her neighbors. She said she was cited for not having the privacy fence attached to the rear of the house.

"This privacy fence is in a side yard," Rosan said. "I don't agree with the code. I never have. It rears its ugly head frequently with us. I've understood there are a series of them around town. This is the first time I've seen something come back seven years later."

She disagreed with Deas having to pay a $150 fee for an error that occurred seven years ago.

Rosan asked if there's a statue of limitations.

Assistant city attorney Tom Weber said the commission could make a recommendation to council to waive the fee.

"I don't know what code enforcement we had in 2006," Rosan said. "Clearly, it was missed. Things in my neighborhood have been missed. It seems highly unusual the applicant has to spend time and pay a fee when clearly it was unintentional on her part."

"Why should she have to pay a fee for something that's our fault?" Dave Andrews, commission member said.

Rosan recommended and the commission approved a variance for the fence and recommended that council waive the $150 fee.

In other commission action, an application was approved for conditional use to allow a drive-thru lane to accommodate a proposed Building A tenant and Building C tenant for property at 390 Rocky Fork Drive South and 295-361 S. Hamilton Road for the Shops at Rocky Fork.

A final development plan, certificate of appropriateness and variance application also were approved for the the Shops at Rocky Fork. The final development plan includes 12 parcels on 3.555 acres at 295-361 S. Hamilton Road for redevelopment from single-family residences to a neighborhood, commercial mixed-use district.

The project consists of three buildings having a total 27,012 square feet.

Three access points include one full access at Rocky Fork South, one at the north portion of the project on Hamilton Road and one right-in, right-out access slightly south of the midpoint of the project.

Landscaping includes 47 trees, 15 railed landscape planters designed for the tree lawn, a 10-foot planting bed along the western edge of the property that abuts residences, a 6-foot vinyl fence to screen residences and a 10-foot buffer to screen the residences to the north and to the west of the project on Rocky Fork South.

A 3-foot hedge and evergreen trees also will be planted to screen two drive-thrus from Hamilton Road and Rocky Fork South.

Rosan thanked the Ranger Development team for working with the commission on the design.

"We gave a lot of variations and feedback," she said. "Your design team honed in on what we were looking for. I think the end product will be superb. I think we will all be proud of what will end up there."

Commission member Joe Keehner also thanked the applicant for his responsiveness.

"I appreciate it a lot," he said.

Jason Zadeh, president of Ranger Development, said he hopes to have crews break ground for the project in June.

"Some timing is a function of the post-closing position of the current occupants to find new homes," he said. "We're working with Mifflin fire and Gahanna police to allow them the use of the homes, once they're vacant, for collaboration to do training."

The commission also approved a variance to allow a garage structure to encroach into the side setback at 615 Cherry Road.

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