Westport Neighbors: On The Fence

Do good fences make good neighbors?

Next Thursday (December 16, 6 p.m.) the Planning & Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on a text amendment involving fences.

A new proposal would require that the finished side of a fence be installed facing the adjacent lot or street. The idea is for the more attractive side of a fence to face outward, toward the neighbors and street.

A new text amendment would mandate that the “bad” side of a fence (shown here) would have to face the property of the homeowner who built it.

There’s an exemption for lot lines adjoining a non-residential lot, or a lot line directly adjacent to wetlands.

To see the full amendment, click here, then scroll down to Text Amendment #806.

The December 16 public hearing will be livestreamed at www.westportct.gov, and is available on Optimum Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020. Comments can be sent prior to the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov. Residents may join the meeting to offer live testimony.

16 responses to “Westport Neighbors: On The Fence

  1. Jonathan McClure

    I am surprised that this isn’t already codified in Westport. It seems to be a pretty standard requirement in most towns, and driving around Westport, seems to be followed by most residents already.

  2. Donald Bergmann

    Jonathan’s observation is consistent with what most people already thought. It should be approved easily by the P&Z Commission. I do note that I see no reason why there should be an exemption for adjacent wetlands and hope that the Commission will recognize that the appearance of a fence from wetlands can be just as important as from non wetland properties.

  3. Of course one could put in fencing that looks identically nice from both sides.

  4. David J. Loffredo

    Aside from good hygiene, it’s also common sense. When we put up our 6 foot cedar fence around the property years ago, we had the “bad side” with the rails facing in not only to be good neighbors, but also because if they were on the outside, kids could climb over and get to the pool, which would put the whole mess in a different zoning violation for creating a safety hazard.

  5. I thought it was standard and accepted across the country for the good side to face the owner and the bad side to face out? Then if the neighbor wants something nice on their side, they can erect their own fence with the good side in?

    • Actually the opposite is true. Most towns I’ve lived in have ordinances having the finished side (good side) facing outwards, and frankly, I’ve always thought that was the appropriate action to take regardless of a town requirement.

  6. I’m also surprised that this wasn’t already in the town’a rules. Which brings the comments to 5 who thought that way and 1 who did not. Should pass easily.

  7. Richard Johnson

    Next let’s ban the plastic fences that mostly seem used to grow mildew.

  8. Carl A. Swanson

    I would contend it is the “payor’s” choice. Mandate that both property owners share in the cost? I am sure that would fly in Westport. Bigger fish to fry presently including the horrific speed and amount of traffic. And this constant dulling sound of leaf blowers non-stop every day.

    • Mandate shared cost?! Not everyone wants the fence so why be forced into paying for half because my neighbor wants to erect one? Usual practice is the payor places fence with finished side facing out. Many town mandate that for estictic reasons and it seems the proper move since the payor is putting it up, why should the neighborhood be subject to the “bad side”?

  9. Jo Ann Miller

    I thought my husband’s comment above was pretty stupid until I looked at our neighbor’s fence. They make fences with two “good” sides so the residents merely share the cost. That said, around here, fences are big bucks and that means an interesting upcoming meeting. Peace.

  10. Andrew Colabella

    I mean…it makes total sense. The “ugly side of the fence shows the beams and structural part, which, if anyone is looking to gain entry into one’s property, can easily use the wooden beams to climb to gain access.

    Otherwise, buy fencing that does not show or have an exposed structure to it and then either side is NICE.

  11. Ellen Dale Naftalin

    My mother had a long fence put up in the 70s. She did it with the back side facing the neighbor. Now I replace panels as needed. I put them up the same way. Replacing or turning the entire length of fence around would be very expensive for me.I hope those of us with fences facing the “wrong” way will be grandfathered in and not forced to pay thousands of dollars to change. Maybe whenever I replace a panel I will have them put it in the opposite way and years from now it will all be correct. Meanwhile it will look pretty strange.

  12. Of course you could put in a nice line of evergreens. The fence gets bigger and better every year! And both sides will look equally great!

    Hmmmm – that’s what we did almost 50 years age when we moved to Westport. We didn’t want to give or get the ugly side of a stockade type wooden fence.

  13. Arline Gertzoff

    A grandfather clause needs to be included It would be very expensive to turn around fences that date back to 50’s 60’s and 70’s.Also wire fencing / chicken wire variety do not have good and bad sides.

  14. Jason Sunderland

    Nothing wrong with a nice wood fence, but a row of green giants also looks good and eventually provides more privacy as there are no height restrictions on trees. However, I’m guessing that doesn’t qualify as a fence if we put in a pool.