A meeting of the Village of Riverlea Planning Commission was held August 14, 2023 at the Old Worthington Library. Members present were Bryce Jacob (Planning Commissioner), Christopher Bedell, and Rich Skowronski. Member Paul Collini was present via telephone. Also present were Erin Reibel, Thomas and Susan Bell, Amy and Charles Baxter, and Sue Bachmann. The Planning Commissioner called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m.
- The minutes of the regular Planning Commission meeting of July 10, 2023 were not read since each member had received a copy. The Planning Commissioner recommended that a line be added to section 2 of the minutes stating that Zipfel toured the site of the fence application after the meeting and approved the certificate. Skowronski moved and Bedell seconded the motion that the minutes be approved as submitted by the Clerk with the above edit. The following vote was recorded on the motion: Yea: 4, Bedell, Collini, Jacob, and Skowronski; Nay: None; Abstain: None. The motion carried 4-0.
- An application for a Certificate of Appropriateness and Variance by Erin Reibel at 201 W Riverglen Dr to construct a cedar fence around the yard. The variance request was due to Riverlea’s ordinances against constructing fences in side or front yards or on corner lots. The homeowner stated that she recently purchased the house and she would like to install a fence to contain her dog. She stated that she had not seen any other houses in the Village with as small of a back yard as hers.
Bedell stated that he felt that the fence as shown in the plans was a big request, but that he would like to make something work.
The Planning Commissioner stated that Riverlea’s ordinances limit the fence height on a corner lot to 2 ½ ft and that the buildable limit in the Village was 35 ft from the street. He suggested that a fence that could be built within these restrictions would be along the south side of the lot starting at the garage and going along the lot line at the rear of the yard, but that the fence as submitted would not be approved. He stated that visibility was key when adding fences on corner lots.
Collini stated that he had a similar issue when his neighbor recently requested to add a fence between the properties, and that he had worked with the neighbor to design a fence that mostly falls within ordinances. He stated that he would be willing to work with the applicant on these plans as well.
Resident Thomas Bell stated that he is the direct neighbor of the property on the west side and that he had no objection to the addition of a fence starting at the deck of the applicant’s house and running to the southwest corner along the property line between the houses.
Resident Charles Baxter inquired as to the height of the fence, which will be 4 ft, and the look of the fence, which will be pickets without gaps and constructed of untreated cedar.
Resident Susan Bell suggested an invisible fence as an alternative to constructing a solid fence. The applicant stated that she does not like the idea of shocking her dog. Skowronski suggested that there are newer models of invisible fences that do not use shocks as a deterrent and the applicant stated that she will research these, but that she would prefer a physical fence.
Resident Sue Bachmann stated that she had no objection to the addition of a fence as suggested along the south and west lot lines.
The Planning Commissioner suggested that if the fence plan was amended to start at about the deck at the rear of the house and along the south and west lot lines and around to the side of the garage on the east, this would be legal and would not require a variance, but that there is no guarantee that it would be approved by the Commission. The applicant stated that under this proposal, she would only need one gate, and not the two shown in the plans. She stated that she was open to this proposal, but that she would also research invisible fence options.
Skowronski moved to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness for the fence with the following stipulations: The fence is to start from the southeast corner of the garage and extend south to the property line then west to the property line, and then north to a spot at or near the deck at the rear of the house, and then west back to the house and Collini seconded this motion. The following vote was recorded on the motion: Yea: 4, Bedell, Collini, Jacob, and Skowronski; Nay: 0; Abstain: None. The motion carried 4-0. No variance is needed with the approved plan.
- Corey Shields and Lauren Paxton, the owners of the house being constructed at 131 W Southington, submitted the requested landscaping plan for the yard. This plan includes the requested large tree in the front of the yard. The Commission approved the landscaping plan but noted that there is no fence approved as part of this plan.
- Bedell noted that the bushes at the northwest corner of Southington and Dover are overgrown and present an obstruction to visibility at the intersection. The Planning Commissioner stated that he would contact the homeowner about this.
Skowronski moved and Collini seconded a motion to adjourn. The motion was approved unanimously (4-0). The meeting was adjourned at 7:43 p.m.
Bryce Jacob, Planning Commissioner
Josh Mehling, Clerk