2017-07-12 / News

Pool Fence Variance Denied

The Archbold Zoning Board of Appeals denied a request for a variance in the requirement for a fence around swimming pools.

The board took that action at its meeting Thursday, July 6.

Ryan and Stacey Heckel, 320 North Pointe Drive, had a pool installed at their residence in August 2016. While zoning required that a fence, five feet tall, be installed around the pool within 14 days after the pool is finished, the Heckels’ fence was delayed for several months.

The Heckels then installed an automatic pool cover. When an access code is entered into a keypad, the cover opens and closes. The Heckels contend the cover is actually safer than a fence.

There is an 18-foot gap in the fence. The Heckels said fully enclosing the fence would create hardships for them.

As an example, the two doors to the house the family uses the most would be enclosed by a fence and gate. Trying to maneuver through the gate with a bag of groceries, or get a lawn mower in and out, would be difficult.

The Zoning Board of Appeals took up the question at a meeting Thursday, June 15. During that meeting, Tim Smith, board chairman, said village council talked about the issue on June 5, and did not want to change the village ordinance to allow pool covers as an alternative to fences, nor did they want to allow pools without fully enclosed fences.

It was actually the council ordinance and resolution committee that had considered swimming pools.

Council

S. Heckel appeared at the June 19 council meeting, where she said she had been told council had said no to the variance request.

Kenny Cowell, councilman, said that comment was “totally wrong.”

It is up to the zoning board to make a decision on zoning requests. An appeal of such a request must go to the court system.

Council did approve the first reading on a new ordinance regarding swimming pools, but the new version only updates the language of the original ordinance.

Second Time

At the June 15 meeting, the zoning board tabled the Heckels’ request, giving them a chance to appear before council.

The board met again on Thursday, July 6, to reconsider the matter.

After Carma Grime, village planning and zoning inspector, read the background on the issue, Brad Roth, board member, said he knows the Heckels and knows they are responsible. They would keep the cover closed when the pool was not in use.

But, he said, “I am still stuck on the precedent it would set.”

Brad Short, board member, said he agreed with Roth.

Short said unfortunately, “not everyone is responsible enough– that there’s always that off-chance that something comes up, and we suddenly have to rush off and the pool cover gets forgotten. We’re all human.

“Then a neighborhood child walks in and falls in… then what?”

S. Heckel said the same thing can happen with a gate left open.

S. Heckel said when they purchased their pool cover, they were told by the salesman, “just go apply for a variance. It’s not a big deal.” “It was never supposed to be this big of a problem. It really wasn’t.”

On a 3-0 vote, with board members Smith and Tim Ziegler absent, the board voted to deny the variance request.

The Heckels were granted 60 days to install a fence in the remaining 18-foot section. Until that time, the board required the Heckels to put a temporary fence over the gap.

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