Commission denies ban on chicken-wire fences

ALBANY -- The Albany City Commission has tentatively voted down a measure that would ban chicken wire and other similar-styled fencing in front yards, despite pleas from one commissioner Tuesday.

The ordinance would have bolstered an existing ordinance that bans chain-link fencing in front yards in nonindustrial zoning districts, zoning officials say.

Chain-link fencing is legal in backyards.

The 4-2 vote against the measure -- with Commissioners Bob Langstaff and Roger Marietta the only "yes" votes -- means that, while chain link fences remain banned by city ordinance, hog wire, chicken wire and other types of welded-wire fencing is still legal.

The proposed ordinance came to the Commission table after being recommended for approval by the Albany-Dougherty Planning Commission.

That body took the issue up after Raymond Fajardo, who was cited by code enforcement for having a chain-link fence in his front yard on Forest Glen Drive, replaced it with a welded-wire fence instead.

Discussion of the proposed change seemed to focus on the impact on chain-link fences -- which have been banned under the city zoning code since a vote by the commission on Jan. 27, 2009.

"It doesn't seem like a very smart ordinance when most of the existing fences are chain-link fences," Mayor Pro Tem Christopher Pike said, in discussing prohibiting chain-link fences when much of the city's existing fences are grandfathered in.

Albany Mayor Willie Adams said he had concerns about regulating items that affected people's homes.

"People's homes are sacred things," Adams said. "You have to be careful when you go messing with them."

Marietta expressed concern over whether banning chain-link fences would have security implications for people, given that many across the city use them to help keep people out.

"You all do realize that this vote means people can put up chicken wire fences in their yards, right?" Langstaff commented following the vote.

Langstaff clarified his position Wednesday.

"I understand the concerns of my fellow commissioners about the hardships it may create for those who have safety issues, but we can't become a city of neighborhoods filled with front-yard chicken wire fences," Langstaff said.

The Commission will take a final vote on the matter during its night meeting March 23.