Town of North Hempstead council members and residents alike remained divided on the issue of fence heights, and the council tabled a proposed amendment to the town’s code at its Tuesday night meeting.
The issue prompted an animated debate, as Town of North Hempstead Councilman Fred Pollack read a complex draft of an amendment that broke down to setting a height of four feet for front yard fences, five feet for side yards and six feet for rear yards.
Councilman Thomas Dwyer immediately objected to any change, saying, “Whenever we change a code, the maximum [height] people can take, they will take it.”
Marietta DiCamillo, president of the North Lakeville Civic Association, said she was thoroughly confused by the proposal Pollack read, which included qualifications for fences abutting commercial properties and roadways.
“This is the most confusing amendment I’ve ever heard. I really want to see my neighbors. I am going to be really upset if my neighbors construct a six-foot fence,” she said.
She said that senior citizens considered higher fences a safety issue, since they would be unable to see their neighbors.
Jim McHugh, president of the New Hyde Park Civic Association, said board members of his organization were on both sides of the issue. They might be willing to compromise on a five-foot side fence but, he said, “Generally, they didn’t want fences above four feet.”
Roslyn Heights resident Jarrett Roth said he favored uniformity in his neighborhood and didn’t understand why the council was revisiting the issue, which he thought had been resolved at a four-foot level last month.
“I live on a 100 by 140-foot lot. I paid a lot for that lot. I don’t want to see my neighbor,” he said. “It’s not about being boxed in. It’s about being safe in my yard.”
New Hyde Park resident Gina Bernstein said she is frightened of a neighborhood dog who barks at her with its paws atop a four-foot fence during her daily three-mile walk, “So I think this is a wise amendment,” she said.
Dwyer noted that the town Board of Zoning Appeals approves 98 percent of the variances residents seek to erect five foot fences for their side yards and six feet fences in back yards, and pointed out that
council and the zoning board had been considering the issue without acting over the past several months.
“I don’t agree with what the BZA does. I think they’re unresponsive,” he said.
Pollack said residents who are denied variances typically buy six-foot fences at Home Depot and install them anyway.
“I totally disagree,” Pollack said.
Literally in the middle between Dwyer and Pollack, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman said, “So this is interesting.”
Kaiman suggested carrying the issue over one more time for “a little further discussion” and the council voted unanimously to do so.