By Diane Madigan
Independent Special Writer
The Van Buren Township Downtown Development Authority has had many complaints recently about the unsightly fence from the ‘60s with the barbed wire on top that was put up by the developer of a subdivision.
The fence runs along Belleville Road from Harmony Lane to Sunset.
The DDA wants to do something about it and at its Jan. 22 meeting several propositions were discussed.
Sally Hodges from McKenna Associates planning consultants distributed an aerial photo and unofficial drawing of the fence and its position in relation to the Wayne County right of way.
Wade Trim engineers performed a survey and determined that the fence is largely located in the right of way. That distance varies, ranging from pretty close to three to four feet in the right of way.
The chainlink fence which also has an illegal row of barbed wire on top was originally installed by the developer of the subdivision. In many locations there are two fences. Many property owners have added their own privacy fence behind the chain link, which is probably in a legal location, Hodges said.
Hodges said she thinks the DDA should work with the township attorney to determine ownership of the fence.
She said she believes, at this time, that there are three alternatives. The first is that the DDA could repair or possibly require the fence to be repaired. Hodges also said that if it is determined that the fence is in the county right of way, the county will require the DDA to remove the fence. And, the DDA will need a permit from the county to do that.
Secondly, the DDA could remove the fence and replace it with something better in a conforming location, which means working with all 11 property owners.
One of the properties is vacant and owned by a bank. It was agreed that Hodges will work with the attorney to identify ownership.
The third alternative is to not replace the fence and plant trees and shrubs as a buffer.
A heavy-duty vinyl fence with narrow footings that would not impact a lot of the vegetation was also suggested.
At the Feb. 26 meeting of the DDA, Ireland gave an update.
“The county is not going to pay for anything,” Ireland reported. “If anything gets done, we are going to foot the bill for it.”
Ireland said she sent a letter to all property owners that abut the fence, stating that they have looked into it with Wayne County and determined that the fence is not on their properties.
A group meeting for resident input will be set up once they find out from the county what the township is allowed to do. Ireland said she received no response from the letters that were sent out.
By Diane Madigan