by Andrew Getty
Q: My neighbor put a fence up on my property. Did he get a permit from your office to put up a fence?
Q: Why not?
A: Because a permit is not required by local law, or the NYS Building Code unless the fence is taller than six feet, around a swimming pool or within the shoreline setback area along waterfront.
Q: So my neighbor can put up any old fence anywhere he wants to?
A: Not exactly. If the fence is less than six feet high, it is not regulated by local law or the New York State Building Code. However, the Adirondack Park Agency, or other agencies may have jurisdiction. You should call those agencies directly.
Q: Does the town zoning allow people to put fences on other people’s property?
A: Of course not.
Q: Then how come my neighbor can put the fence on my property?
A: Again, fences less than six feet are not regulated, no permit required. This office did not know about it.
Q: You just said that the Town Zoning does not allow people to put fences on someone else’s property, and now you say they are not regulated… which is it?
A: Your question was “does the town zoning allow people to put fences on other people property?” The answer again is, of course not. Remember, they are simply not regulated. What you are dealing with here is not a zoning issue but most likely a civil issue.
Q: I measured the fence and it is six feet, four inches tall. He should have got a permit, right?
A: Technically you may be correct. That is more than six feet.
Q: What do I need to do to make you have him get a permit, then move it off my land?
A: If you are now making a formal complaint about your neighbor not getting a permit for installing a fence taller than six feet, we will investigate the situation and act accordingly.
Q: Consider this my formal complaint. When are you going to take care of this, right now, today?
A: We will look into this as soon as reasonably possible, probably not today.
Q: Why not? He put that fence on my property! And now I’ve complained!! Just do your job!!
A: Believe it or not, there are a few other things going right now that have slightly higher level of priorities, and life safety significance. We will look into this issue in the next few days.
Q: You will make him move it, right?
A: That depends on what we find. If it is truly over six feet tall, we will require a site plan / survey before the permit is issued along with details of how it was installed.
Three days later…
Q: So, how did you make out? He needs a permit and is going to move the fence, right?
A: After confronting your neighbor, he willingly chose to get the permit, of which we have now issued.
Q: How can you issue a permit for a fence on someone else’s property?!!!
A: Based on the documents he submitted with his permit application, the fence is on his property. And the fence does appear to be structurally sound, so the permit was granted.
Q: He is on my property!!!! You need to make him move it!!!!! What documents did he show you anyway?
A: He had a fairly current survey, and it appeared to be on his property.
Q: Well, I know he is wrong! My grandfather used to maintain the bushes there; I know it is our land. Are you telling me you refuse to do anything about this?
A: No, not at all. I am saying this office has no jurisdiction over property line disputes. And, that we granted his permit based on a competent survey provided along with the application. After carefully looking at everything, there was nothing left to do except issue the permit.
Q: How do I get him to move that fence?
A: You may want to ask him. You may want to tone it down a little, even offer a beer first!
Q: Do you think this is funny? I’m not going to do that! That is why I came in here, for you to tell him to get that fence off my property!! I can’t believe all the taxes I give this town, and just for a camp!
A: Sir, it really appears that you have a dispute over the property line, and unless you guys can agree on where the line is, only the courts can help you out. You’re only dealing with a few feet, I urge you to reach out to your neighbor to find a solution.