Good fences make good neighbors. But some Oak Hill Road area residents are concerned over the whereabouts of a fence they believe should be in place.
When construction began in 2003 in the eight-and-a-half acre area which now contains Casa Grande, agreements were made that the property owner would construct an eight-foot fence along the back of the property to help mask the view of newly constructed businesses from inhabitants of the properties behind them.
Now that more construction is underway in the area, some Somerset city councilors say they’re getting complaints from residents that a fence has still not been installed. Somerset’s city attorney, however, says she’s been in contact with at least one resident who has had no complaints.
Councilors, with several area residents seated in council chambers, asked Mayor Eddie Girdler about the status of the fence during a meeting earlier this week. They claim construction began there again, but there is no fence to block the view, in spite of the existence of an agreement made between property owners and the former land owner eight years ago.
City attorney Carrie Wiese says city officials can’t enforce that agreement.
“The city can only enforce what’s on the site plan drawn up by the Planning and Zoning Committee,” Wiese explained. “...The property owners had an agreement with the previous property owners. We can’t enforce a private agreement between two citizens.”
Wiese said the Planning and Zoning Committee only stated that the landowner should put up a fence, but she doesn’t believe the height of the fence was specified in any documents.
A June 2003 letter from former city attorney Joe Travis to local attorney Jay McShurley asks for confirmation that McShurley “agreed to erect a vinyl fence between the property owners and the subject property to be rezoned. This fence will be a minimum of eight feet high and will be erected before any development” and that he also “agreed that these restrictions will be placed in the deed from the property owners to the developers so that these will be permanent and so that the future owners will be required to maintain this fence...” McShurley replied to that letter, and confirmed that his clients would comply with all those specifications.
The current landowner claims he is willing to put up a fence — and even to plant shrubs to enhance the view — but he says he’s waiting to see what size fence will effectively cover up the construction area. Wiese said Mayor Girdler has also offered to install a sidewalk in the area.
“We have all been working with Mr. (Allen) Branscum (one of the property owners who came to this week’s meeting) for two months now,” Wiese said.
During this week’s meeting, Wiese expressed frustration that council members had not spoken to her about the issue before the meeting. On the other hand, some councilors were angry that they had no control over the agreement which had been made several years earlier.
“There may be a compromise we can work out,” Mayor Girdler said. “We’ll do everything possible. We’re going to look at (several things) ... and do something that looks attractive.”