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Planners debate fence law, OK new subdivision

The Harrison County Plan Commission debated the Indiana Fence Law last Thursday because a new subdivision in Ramsey will make a resident responsible for more than 1,000 feet of fencing. The cost could exceed $10,000.
The new subdivision on Clover Valley Road in Ramsey, will have 23 lots on a 46.5 acre track of land. It will require more than 6,000 feet of fencing and is surrounded by land zoned for agricultural use. The zoning for the subdivision was approved in 2001.
Ramsey residents Arthur and Joan Conrad would be responsible for putting up 1,341-1/2 feet of fencing. At an average $8 per foot, it could cost as much as $10,732.
The plan commission debated the request for the major subdivision Thursday at great length, many wanting the subdivision developer, Delbert Smith, to pick up all of the cost of the 6,000 feet of fencing.
Under Harrison County’s Subdivision Ordinance, developers must comply with Indiana’s Fence Law. The law, considered outdated by some, was originally written to solve problems of fencing property between two adjoining farms. It requires that the cost and responsibility of the fence to be split between the two property owners.
‘I know sometimes the person building a subdivision has built the fence, not half and half,’ Eric Wise, county planner, told plan commission members last Thursday.
Many plan commission members were in agreement that they believed the subdivision developer should be responsible for the entire fence.
‘The neighbors didn’t ask for a subdivision,’ Joe Martin, plan commissioner member, said.
Plan commission member and county commissioner J.R. Eckart agreed.
‘You don’t need a fence to keep your crops in, do you?’ he said.
Eckart asked Smith if he would pick up the rest of the fence as a neighborly gesture.
‘No,’ John Kraft, Smith’s attorney replied. ‘Under the terms of the ordinance, we’ll comply with the fence law.’
Harrison County Extension Agent and plan commission member Adrienne Rich said she would at least like to see the fence built before the subdivision.
‘If you’re not going to build the whole fence, I’d at least like to see it up before you build’ the subdivision, she told Smith. ‘I hate to see it wait until the end.’
Rich also suggested the commission take a look at the subdivision ordinance so the issue doesn’t come up with each new subdivision. Other plan commission members agreed.
Steve Haggard, who spoke on behalf of his mother Helen Haggard, said he wanted to see the fence built, but he did not ask for a subdivision. Helen Haggard lives on the east side of the subdivision.
‘I just want it adequate to keep the people out,’ Haggard said. ‘People infringe; that’s what they do.’
Haggard later added that he was not against the subdivision.
‘Once that lawyer (Kraft) gets his money, he’s going to leave, but we’re going to be dealing with that land and the subdivision,’ Haggard said.
Plan commission member Jim Klinstiver motioned to table the approval of the subdivision until the issue of the fence could be worked out. His motion failed on a tie vote, 4 to 4.
Rich said the plan commission needed to reach a decision that night after another motion to table by Eckart also failed. Eckart motioned to table the issue after the plan commission had been debating for nearly two hours. It, too, failed on a tie vote.
The plan commission approved the subdivision in a later vote. Rhonda Rhoads, Charles Crawford, Vic McCauley, Larry Ott and Rich were in favor, saying they could not deny the subdivision since the plans met the requirements of the county’s subdivision ordinance.
Klinstiver and Martin were against.
‘I’m not going to leave two farmers hanging with unknown costs,’ Klinstiver said of his vote.
Eckart abstained from voting, saying he would have to vote on the issue in 30 days when it comes before the Harrison County Board of Commissioners.