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Showers early, then partly cloudy overnight. Low around 30F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%..

Showers early, then partly cloudy overnight. Low around 30F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.

What is the offensive height of a fence? That depends on whom you ask among the Hagerstown mayor and city council members.

An update on amendments to the city’s land management code Tuesday turned into a thorough discussion on fence height and material, and what was appropriate in certain locations around a home.

Steve Bockmiller, Hagerstown development planner and zoning administrator, said two comments were received following the Jan. 28 public hearing on the annual package of land-management code updates.

The comprehensive code amendments set a course for future zoning, subdivision and land development, floodplain management and forest-conservation practices in the city.

Mayor Bob Bruchey said he wanted to address the concerns of a citizen regarding the height of chain-link fences in rear yards.

Steve Wilson of Kasinof Avenue sent a request on Jan. 30 to change the code’s language for chain-link fencing which states the board of zoning appeals will not grant any variances. Wilson said in his email he finds the language too restrictive as written.

The second comment was a package from owners of the Doub Farm property in the eastern part of the city.

Bruchey said he didn’t believe anyone should govern by never making exceptions. He also questioned why some chain-link fences were restricted to 4 feet while all other fences of any material could go as high as 6 feet.

He said his neighbor’s fence between their properties was 4 feet tall, and he didn’t think adding another 12 inches to a backyard fence was a big deal.

“I don’t know what height I would find it offensive at, but I know I wouldn’t find it offensive at 5 feet,” he said.

Bockmiller said the provision has been on the books for years, and while it could be lifted, that might create more problems than it solves.

She suggested the council see examples of chain-link fencing at 4, 5 and 6 feet as she did with the planning commission, saying it makes a big difference visually. She also suggested requiring the fences to be black or green.

Councilman Lew Metzner said he was fine going up to 5 feet in certain circumstances, but he preferred wooden fences to chain link.

Councilman Kristin Aleshire said he was fine with 5 feet, but also questioned why certain materials had more leniency in the code.

Bockmiller said he would come back to the council with the recommended change to allow chain-link fences up to 5 feet.

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Alexis Fitzpatrick covers education in Washington County. She can be reached by email at afitzpatrick@herald-mail.com.

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