Illegal fences may be licensed<BR>
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
Prineville has never had an ordinance calling for a permit to build a fence, but there will soon be an ordinance mandating a license for a property owner whose fence encroaches onto a public right of way.
>Fences, sheds or other structures built on the city right of ways are a problem but could become acceptable with a special license
Planning and Public Works Coordinator Ron Kleinschmit said that the licensing proposal is an alternative to requiring all encroachments to be torn down. He explained that fences are not the only type of structure involved, but they are the biggest problem. Kleinschmit says he knows of one house with the porch built to extend into the right-of-way. In other cases, he added, there are structures such as carports and sheds that have been built beyond a property line.
"These were constructed for a number of reasons," Kleinschmit said. "Some were done in intentional ignorance and others were from outright ignorance."
Whatever the reason, unless the encroachment involves a safety issue, it would be allowed to remain under the licensing agreement.
As an example, Kleinschmit told about one NE Holly Street property owner who wanted a bigger side yard and decided to build his fence down the middle of a dedicated street that was not graveled or paved. In another case, the property owner recognized the dedicated street right of way was 12 feet behind the existing curb, but no sidewalk had been built. That owner put his fence right behind the curb, extending his front yard the extra distance.
"We have received complaints or observed encroachments that may be a number of years old," Kleinschmit said, "or are under construction. The practice of encroaching is frequent and could result in disputes or liability issues in the future if not dealt with."
The proposed agreement would deal with those issues. Licenses would be recorded against the actual property and require the property owner to formally sign the agreement. This action would provide liability protection to the city should a suit be filed based on the encroachment.
The agreement does not indemnify all cases of encroachments, however. If the fence, or whatever structure, causes a safety problem by blocking vision by not following city code requirements, the owner could be made to remove it.
A final draft of the proposed encroachment license agreement will be presented to the city council for action.