Fence Openness Clarification

Article Type: 
GHI Homes Category: 
Wednesday, December 1, 2004

In many instances over the past year, the A&E Committee has discussed the Cooperative's requirements for fence openness. However, until recently, the only rules governing this have been

for boundary fences
Solid board fences are not permitted
for privacy screens
Screens shall have an open pattern to allow for both air and light penetration

with pictorial examples of each.

So, without a specific way to quantify 'openness', what was 'open' to one person was not sufficiently 'open' for another. After staff research into standards that exist in other communities and municipalities, the Committee agreed upon, and the Board of Directors passed rules for minimum openness of fences on November 18th, 2004:

§VII. boundary fence   30%
§VIII. privacy screen single-plane 15%
double-plane 40%

So, what does this mean and how do you measure this percentage business? First, we're going to consider the surface pattern of the fence, and not the posts supporting it.

If you start with chainlink fences and work the numbers, a typical 9-gauge 2"x2" square chainlink pattern is over 90% open, so chainlink is much more open than the 30% minimum. Logically rationalizing the visual examples of split-rail and 2- and 3-board fences leads you to conclude that most are at least 50% open. It is normally the picket-type fences with closer spacing that approach the 30% minimum.

Openness of privacy screens is based upon whether they are proposed as single- or double-planed. Minimum openness is based on the actual openness measurement of each plane. It's a little difficult to grasp the concept at first, but it makes sense if you read the rule and follow the measurement example in the new rule.

If you are planning to install a fence in the future, plan on providing the dimensions on the boards and open spaces with your permit request, so that openness can be determined.