City seeks flexibility on corner lot fences

City seeks flexibility on corner lot fences

PAWTUCKET – A proposed amendment to the city’s zoning code would make it easier for someone who lives on a corner lot to put up a new fence.

“This emerged from a request from the council to consider ways to reduce the number of residents required to go to the Zoning Board when seeking to install side yard fences greater than 3 feet in maximum height,” said Jay Rosa, assistant director of planning and redevelopment for Pawtucket.

The amendment received a favorable recommendation from the City Planning Commission at its Dec. 19 meeting, and now goes to the City Council for final consideration.

“In an instance where a property is a corner lot and has multiple yards with street frontage, the determination of which lot lines are the front, side, or rear for the purposes of maximum allowable fence height shall be made by the zoning director in coordination with the Planning Department as required,” states the new language. All fences located on a corner shall comply with street corner visibility setback requirements in keeping with local law, it adds.

The amendment, said Rosa, is only applicable for residential corner lots and provides a bit more flexibility for the maximum fence height permitted in “side yards.”

Current maximum heights for fences in residential zoning districts are as follows:

• In a front yard, 3 feet for a closed fence where more than 50 percent of the side is covered and 4 feet for a fence where more than 75 percent of the fence can be seen through.

• 6 feet for a side yard.

• And 6 feet for a rear yard.

The maximum height for front, side and rear yards in commercial districts is 8 feet.

The matter of fence heights on corner lots has proven to be an issue in a number of area communities over the years, including in Cumberland where a similar situation essentially means residents on those lots have two front yards and have to seek special permission for a taller fence on one side of the house.