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Saranac Lake adopts new fence law

Part of this new fence erected at Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn at Lake Flower Avenue was being taken down Monday, June 25 after some residents complained in the local media.

Part of this new fence erected at Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn at Lake Flower Avenue was being taken down Monday, June 25 after some residents complained in the local media. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— The Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees Monday, July 23 unanimously approved a new fence law after two months of revisions shaped by public concerns.

Unlike previous board meetings, there were no public comments regarding the fence law revisions on July 23. Since unveiling the amended fence law in May, residents have commented on its regulations and asked many questions. Concerns include a 2-foot setback, temporary fencing for gardens and snow, and whether existing fences are “grandfathered.”

Here are the highlights from the village’s amended law for fencing, retaining walls and hedges:

•A “garden fence’ is defined as a fence that is used to protect gardens from animals. Garden fences shall only enclose areas dedicated to the growing of fruits, vegetables and ornamental flowers. Temporary garden fences may only be erected between April 15 and Oct. 15 and may only be constructed of materials commonly used for such applications but are otherwise exempt from the provisions of this chapter. Permanent garden fences shall require a building permit, may be constructed of materials commonly used for such applications, and may not exceed 8 feet in height or be located in the architectural front yard as defined in this section, and shall otherwise be subject to the provisions of this chapter.

•A “retaining wall” is defined as a wall 3 feet tall or higher that resists lateral pressures and limits lateral displacement caused by soil, rock, water or other materials, except that basement and vault walls that are part of a building or an underground structure shall not be considered retaining walls.

•Prior to the construction of any fence or retaining wall a building permit shall be obtained.

•Fences shall be constructed of a common type such as split rail, picket, chain link or stockade. Fences shall have the most pleasant or decorative side facing adjacent properties.

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