No more chicken wire fences in Big Rapids

BIG RAPIDS — Residents of Big Rapids will no longer have the option of using chicken wire to fence in their yards if amendments to the fencing ordinance are adopted.

The Big Rapids planning commission is recommending the city amend its fencing ordinance to clarify language regarding what is allowable material for fencing.

“I call this my ‘chicken wire loophole,’” Paula Priebe, the city’s community development director, said. “We are particularly looking at the section of the ordinance that lists the types of materials the fences can be made of.

“Because the language is a little squishy, ​​people have been making fences out of chicken wire, which doesn’t maintain well,” she added. “City staff gets a lot of complaints about these fences, but they don’t have any means of fixing the issue because they are allowed by the current regulations.”

The current language of the ordinance states that fences can be constructed of wood, brick, plastic, masonry, iron or “woven wire” commonly known as chain link.

Planning and zoning technician Emily Szymanski told the planners during a meeting in April that when applicants request to put up chicken wire fencing staff has had to approve those fences because of the term “woven wire” in the language of the ordinance.

The amended language would more clearly specify the materials that are allowed for fencing, which would include:

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