In Red Bank, fences do not good neighbors make

Council debates need for new ordinance to settle disputes


Staff Writer

Red Bank Red Bank RED BANK — If tall fences make good neighbors, then wide fences might do just the opposite.

The Borough Council discussed property disputes that have arisen between neighbors around town due to the placement of fences along at its meeting last Monday.

Councilman Pasquale Menna said he would offer a zoning change, which he hopes to have prepared for the next council meeting on July 11 at 5:30 p.m.

Councilman John P. Curley said that the zoning ordinance that deals with the issue of fence placement states that the fence must be placed adjacent to the property lines.

“We need specific guidelines,” he said.

Curley said that in some cases, although the fence itself is within the property lines, the fence supports do cross over to the adjacent property.

“All supporting members of a fence shall be located on the inside of the fence,” the zoning ordinance states, “and if erected along or adjacent to a property line, the supporting members of the fence shall face the principal portion of the tract of land of the property upon which the fence is erected.”

There is no language in the ordinance that gives a specific setback for fences that are constructed along adjacent property lines.

Menna said he agreed with Curley, saying that the latest property line dispute, which is taking place on Irving Place, is the third one this year, with others taking place on Wallace and Spring streets.

“I spoke to both property owners,” said Menna about the Irving Place dispute. “They both called me within five minutes of each other.

“The ordinance, as it’s crafted now,” he said, “turns neighbors into enemies.”

Menna said that he would like residents who wish to erect fences to have a survey done of the property to avoid property line disputes.

He suggested that the ordinance be changed to state that any new fence must be at least 6 inches from the property line.

“Middletown has a 3-foot ordinance,” Menna said. “In Red Bank that would be impractical.”

Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels said that this would be a good topic of discussion for the Code Enforcement Committee, which has a meeting scheduled for this Friday.

“There are a lot of instances where neighbors share the cost of a fence,” Sickles said. “By mutual consent, a fence may cross the property line.”

Sickels also said that in some cases, the cost of a survey might be prohibitive to building the fence, and that perhaps the survey requirement should be done only in cases when there is not written consent from both neighbors.

Councilman Arthur Murphy said that he saw the survey requirement as an unnecessary cost to place upon a resident.

“I don’t know where the liability is to us,” he said.

Councilman Robert J. Bifani said that he wanted the Code Enforcement Committee to discuss this issue at its meeting and make a recommendation

to the council at the July 11 council meeting.