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Planning and Appeals hears feud over fence
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A granted request to build a decorative iron fence one inch from a woman’s Park Hill Drive neighbor has created a barrier in the two neighbors’ friendship.

Among two other requests, Jane Taylor, 1246 Park Hill Drive, asked the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board to grant a variance that would allow her to build a fence one inch from her neighbor’s property line. But her neighbor and friend, Becky Anthony, 1258 Park Hill Drive, opposed Taylor’s request, asking that the board only allow the fence to be no less than one foot from her property.

Gainesville’s code requires that fences on residential property must be built three feet from neighboring property lines to allow for maintenance of the fence unless there is a written agreement between the two neighbors to have it on the property line.

Anthony said the fence issue has caused a rift in the two women’s relationship.

"Jane and I have been neighbors and friends for many years, and I want that to continue," Anthony said. "This has thrown somewhat of a strain, but I don’t want it to be."

Taylor had previously built the fence before going to the Planning and Appeals Board, but later took it down when it caused a problem in the friendship, she said.

When Anthony first found out that the fence was on her property, she said she did not have a problem with it.

"I thought ‘In a hundred years from now, its really not gone matter,’" Anthony recalled at Tuesday’s meeting. "Because I don’t want any problems with my neighbors or any problems with land at all."

Later, however, Anthony said Taylor’s contractor moved the pins marking the property lines, and Anthony said her "White County temper" moved her to feel otherwise about the fence.

"I didn’t like that, and I let them know I didn’t like that," Anthony said. "... There’s a right and wrong way about doing things."

Anthony told the board that Taylor’s fence is beautiful, but one inch did not leave a lot of room for error. She asked the board to only allow Taylor to build the fence one foot from her property.

Taylor said she did not mean to encroach on her neighbors property, and when she told Anthony about it, Anthony told her the fence was fine as it was.

"I thought we had resolved it, and whatever matters needed to be taken care of maybe over a cup of coffee we could talk about it," Taylor said.

Yet, Taylor said Anthony would not speak to her or answer her calls after that day, and as a result, Taylor said she took down the wall.

"I said ‘Nothing is worth this.’ The wall went down," Taylor said.

Despite her previous effort to make amends, Taylor said she still needs the room to allow people to gather in her yard.

"A foot doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is in my situation," Taylor told the board. "In reality, I need every inch of space for wheelchair access."

Taylor said she had the property resurveyed, and encroaching on Anthony’s property would not be a problem again.

"We will take great pains, believe me," Taylor said.

The majority of the board, attempting a compromise, voted to allow Taylor to build her fence three inches from Anthony’s property line. Board members Floyd Baldwin and Dexter Stanley opposed Taylor’s requests. The planning and appeals board has the final vote on variance requests.

After the meeting, Stanley explained his opposing vote, saying his only problem with Taylor’s request was that her contractor had previously encroached on Anthony’s property, and moved the pins marking the property lines.

"I respect my neighbors, and I expect other people to respect other people’s properties," Stanley said.

In other business, the board approved three other requests:

  • The board unanimously voted to approve a variance request from Redemption Partners LLC to allow Craig Long, of Alpharetta to vary the front yard building requirements from 63 feet from the right of way to 30 feet. The approved request allows Long to build three 3,500-square-foot houses on the two lots of 1196 and 1212 Morningside Drive. Neighbors expressed concerns that a future widening of Morningside Drive would affect their properties, and that the request created too much density in their neighborhood.
  • The board unanimously approved a request from L & E Coleman Properties LLC to vary the front yard set back of his 2305 Danbury Lane property from 40 feet to 23 feet to allow him to build an 850 square foot addition to the office building in the industrial area.
  • The board unanimously approved a variance request from Ricky Presley to allow an automotive body shop his property at 508 Davis Street in the Midtown Overlay Zone. The specific overlay zone does not allow for automotive body shops, but the granted variance allows the current one to stay. However, another business coming into that property with a similar request would have to ask for another variance.
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