Posts Tagged ‘Fences in Ocean Grove’

A legal fence in historic Ocean Grove. Blogfinger.net photo ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor and Jack Bredin, reporter and researcher.

At the November 1 meeting of the Board of Adjustment, a homeowner made a formal request to replace a preexisting 4 foot fence with a 6 foot fence. He based his request for a bulk variance on the need for more privacy.   The homeowner appeared without an attorney or expert witness.   Asking for more privacy is not a valid consideration in providing a variance for this homeowner’s request.

The Neptune Township zoning limits rear fences to five feet. Many historic fences are 4 feet.  Robert Frost said, “Good fences make good neighbors.”  But in OG, they may not be too tall or your good neighbors may lodge a complaint at the Mother Ship.

The Chairwoman of the Historic Preservation Commission, Deb Osepchuk,  was present. She testified that the homeowner sought approval from the HPC, but that request was denied as not being compatible with HPC Architectural Design Guidelines   (see below)

“Rear yard fence height. Fences located in a rear yard area or on lot lines abutting a rear yard area shall not exceed a height of five (5) feet. The height of any decorative elements, articulated corners, gateways and posts shall be included in the fence height measurement.”

Why would a neighbor object to this homeowner’s request? After all, we all understand the need for privacy.

The meeting was poorly attended by those who live within 200 feet of the property who had received letters notifying them of the meeting.  Two neighbors appeared to oppose approval. But the approval  or disapproval of neighbors is not required for the Board’s decision.

Some neighbors didn’t care and didn’t attend. Others could have objected on the grounds of equal justice under the law, because they believe that no one should be exempted from the rules.  Also, there are those who would object because of “light, air, and open space issues.”  And others might be concerned with neighborhood aesthetics.

But the most compelling reason for denial is “precedence.”  If this applicant were approved, then the next person who comes along asking for a 6 foot fence would have to be treated the same way.  Then, all around town, we get 6 foot fences, and then the town no longer looks as it did before—-it will be contrary to what the town is all about.

In this regard, the people of Ocean Grove who want to have a successful historic town, need to keep an eye on such applications.  Neptuners don’t have the same sensitivity to historic appearances as we do.   Luckily, the Chairman of the Board of Adjustment is an Ocean Grover—Paul Dunlap, while Deb Osepchuk  (HPC) also lives in the Grove. They understand why these issues are important.


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