City commission approves fence regulation changes




Garden City commissioners on Tuesday approved changes to fence regulations and zoning rules recommended by the planning commission that are designed to allow property owners better use of property when they build a fence along public right of way.

"The planning commission reviewed this extensively and believes it will help reduce the number of waiver requests and help streamline the process," Kaleb Kentner, planning and community development director, said. "This is one of those regulations that we constantly review every couple of years."

Kentner said the planning commission has worked since last November on improving fence rules. He said there have been many waiver requests from people who want to build on public rights of way.

Some streets have 100 feet or more of right of way, Kentner said. There may be a sidewalk and then 20 or 30 feet of right of way until the private property line.

Most people mistakenly think they have the property all the way to the sidewalk, he said, but it's public right of way that might have buried utility lines.

The new rules allow people to build in the right of way if they meet certain criteria.

In residential districts, fences may be built in the right-of-way if several criteria are met. Applicants will be required to fill out a fence liability waiver form recorded with the register of deeds, along with a fence permit application; put a stamped, carved or engraved metal plate permanently on a fence in the right of way that the fence is in the right of way and the city should be contacted before repairs, alterations or removal; if there's an existing sidewalk on the block, the applicants must build a sidewalk or provide enough space for a sidewalk to match the neighborhood; and verify no public utility easements are at the proposed fence location.

Each case will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Another fence issue that addressed is corner lots. Kentner said that previously, homes on corner lots essentially were considered as having two front yards, which limited the height and location of fences. Now, homes on corner lots with an excess of 100 feet in length on the non-front side can build a six-foot privacy fence as if it were a back yard.

In other business:

* Commissioners agreed to a request for special assessment financing to make streetscape improvements on Seventh and Laurel streets for the redevelopment of the McAllister Building.

Bruce Glass and Beverly Schmitz Glass, the executive director of Downtown Vision, are buying the building at 118 E. Laurel St. at the southwest corner of Laurel and Seventh streets. They plan to renovate the building to create new office space for Downtown Vision and other organizations.

Streetscape improvements will include replacing curb and gutter, brick repair, street lights, underground electrical and irrigation work, sidewalks, trees, tree grates and drainage culverts.

Estimated project cost is $101,000. The city and property owner will split the cost, with the city picking up around 61 percent. The special assessment would be included in a future bond issue and be paid back over a 10-year period.

Steve Cottrell, city engineer, said it is not an abnormal request. The city has participated in other special assessment projects, including one in 1995 in which the city paid 70 percent of the cost of the original Main Street streetscape project.

* Commissioners authorized $20,000 in additional funding to the Southwest Kansas Coalition as part of efforts to continue federal lobbying efforts to keep Amtrak's Southwest Chief passenger rail service running through Garden City and southwest Kansas.

* Commissioners declared May 5 through 11 as Public Service Recognition Week to recognize the work of public servants and employees on the local, state and national levels.

* Commissioners declared May 12 through 18 as National Police Week to recognize and appreciate the work of law enforcement officers, and remember those who have lost their lives while protecting others on National Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15.

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