A neighbor, who works for the city, made a complaint to the city concerning my desire to erect a fence on my property. This complaint led to an inspector arriving the same morning and indicating that I could not fence the entire back yard because of a drainage easement. He made a mark in the ground with his boot and said I could fence to that point. Fencing beyond that point could result in the removal of the fence. Fencing to the point indicated would result in the loss of use of approximately half my property.
My wife and I later met with the City Engineer and the same inspector to discuss the issue. Again, we were told we could only fence to the point previously indicated and anything past that point would cause water to back up and flood surrounding properties. We said again we had planned to raise the fence over the drainage area. We also offered to use aluminum fencing over the drainage area. These alternatives were quickly dismissed even though the City Engineer stated that the property was not in a flood zone and agreed that the drainage area was dry 99 percent of the time.
When asked about the other fences, playground equipment, etc. already in the drainage area on adjacent properties, the City Engineer indicated that the only consistency was inconsistency. The City Engineer refused to put his decision in writing and indicated that we could move if we did not like living in our current residence.
I then wrote to the City Council and the Mayor for assistance. One councilman indicated that “…something doesn’t sound right here. As you state, fences are installed on U&D easements all the time…” I have not heard back from this councilman since his original correspondence.
The mayor left a voice message indicating that I could only fence to where the inspector stated, approximately thirty feet into the easement. I asked the Mayor for his decision in writing. While waiting for his decision in writing, I received a certified letter from Code Enforcement indicating that I was not allowed to fence in the drainage area and was threatened with fines, citation and/or the removal of the fence. I then received a letter from the Mayor also indicating that I was not allowed to fence in the drainage area. No measurement or distance was given as to how far back I could fence, however.
Please keep in mind that no fence work has been done. I stopped work from being started until this issue could be resolved. Nevertheless, the city has repeatedly stated that I would be in violation of a statute that has no bearing in this situation. In fact, a city ordinance specifically states that fences may be erected in easements.
In a separate case involving another neighborhood in the city that had experienced some drainage issues, the current mayor indicated that fences and sheds were in violation making it difficult to get machinery into the drainage area to clear it. There is nothing in the City Council minutes to indicate that the mayor or council members were going to take any action against the homeowners who were allegedly in violation.
Any ideas on what to do next?What is the name of your state?