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Council eyes new pool fence law

By BRIAN BOHNERT
STAFF WRITER
Local lawmakers could soon change an ordinance requiring homeowners to build taller fences around their new swimming pools.
Fostoria City Council is currently addressing legislation that, if passed, would mandate anyone installing a residential swimming pool to erect a fence of at least six feet in height around the structure.
The ordinance, which will seek a second reading during Tuesday’s council meeting, would repeal a 2012 ordinance that set the fence requirement at four feet for all straight-line borders and five feet for chain-link fences.
Zoning Inspector Sandy Coleman said a clerical error made in 2012 further complicated the law by mistakenly setting the requirements in the city’s codified ordinances to four feet for fences all across the board.
“It didn’t go through planning commission. It didn’t have a public hearing,” Coleman said. “It was a request from a guy who lived in (late former councilman) Jerry Nelson’s district. He had a five-foot, chain-linked fence and he didn’t want to tear it down and put up a six-foot fence.”
To ensure the updated policy holds water, the Fostoria Law and Ordinance Committee has asked council to restore the ordinance to how it read prior to the 2012 debacle: a height requirement of six feet, regardless of the type of fence.
“It’s just a good safety measure,” Coleman said. “Back in the day, people either bought those little kiddie pools or they had to go to a pool company to have one put in. Now, you can go to Kmart and buy a pool for $100. It’s nice, but people have to follow the rules.”
Those already fortunate enough to have a pool on their property need not fret. Coleman said anyone who currently owns a residential swimming pool is grandfathered in and will not have to build a taller fence so long as a border is already in place.
However, any Fostorian who takes an old pool down and purchases a new one will be required to comply to the new fence regulations, she said.
The city has a procedure in place for enforcing pool safety laws. Coleman said pool owners caught with either no fence or with a fence of an inappropriate height will receive a letter notifying them they have 14 days to comply.
If the resident does not have a permit for the pool, he or she only has five days to get the appropriate license with the fee to do so being doubled. The original cost for a permit to construct a fence or pool is $25. A pool-fence combo permit is $30.
“You’ve got kids out running around; and, if they see a pool with a short fence around it, especially a chain link, they’re going to hop it if there’s no one around,” Coleman said. “Safety is obviously the main concern, but protecting your property from trespassing is another.”
If council gives the ordinance a second reading Tuesday, the legislation has potential to go into effect following the July 15 meeting.

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