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Farmer says better fences might cost too much
Hall County weighing new regulations
Horses gather along the fence Thursday afternoon in one of Beth Buffington Weikel’s pastures. Hall County Animal Control has proposed new ordinances for fencing livestock.

Hall County Board of Commissioners public meeting

About: Animal Control’s proposed code revisions on fencing
When: 5 p.m. Thursday
Where: Courthouse Annex on Spring Street

The Hall County Board of Commissioners is looking over the county’s official code of ordinances after local farmers expressed concerns over new fencing regulations.

At the board’s last meeting, Animal Control Director Mike Ledford presented the newly revised code before the county opens its first animal shelter Oct. 1.

The second public hearing on the code will take place Thursday at the board’s meeting.

One of the changes regards fencing for livestock.

Ledford said Aug. 24 that the official code was updated in an effort to prevent accidents caused by livestock wandering onto the road.

In May, a man was killed after his car struck a horse that walked onto U.S. 129.

But Beth Buffington Weikel, a Gillsville farmer, said while the last thing she wants is animals endangering travelers, she worries that the new code will be a burden for farmers.

Section C of Chapter 4.10.230 of the revised draft reads, "Such maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, repair or replacement of anchor post assemblies whenever they show signs of weakness, refastening loose wires to posts, splicing broken wires when necessary and keeping the fence properly stretched."Weikel said with so many miles of fencing in Hall County, it would be difficult for the county to enforce.

"This is a big issue," Weikel said. "If they’re going to use that type of qualitative adjectives, that to me implies that somebody is going to have to inspect those fences. That’s why I ask if Code Enforcement is going to become the fence police."

Weikel said farmers use different types of fencing for different areas, including some that only serve to subdivide land. She wants the county to clarify whether that type of fencing would be subject to enforcement.

"Those cross fences are for our purposes only ... so we can graze one area and keep cattle out of another area," Weikel said. "Just our farm has 140,000 feet, or 26.5 miles, of fence."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates there are about 475 miles of fence in Hall County, with an average of about 8,348 feet per 100 acres.

Weikel said if fences were to become substandard due to new code it would be very costly to bring them into compliance.

"With the poultry and cattle markets right now down, there will be farms that cannot, absolutely cannot, survive. We can’t afford that kind of re-fencing," Weikel said.

Hall County has not yet finalized the code. It will be presented before the board of commissioners for a second time at the work session Wednesday and the public is invited to comment at a public hearing Thursday.

"Hall County officials are still working on the details of the animal control ordinance and were not available for discussion prior to the work session," said Hall County Public Information Officer Nikki Young.