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Fence unites landmark commission

Thursday, August 30, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

Should new fences in National Register historic districts come before the Historic Landmark Commission? The answer appears to be “probably.”

At their most recent meeting, Historic Landmark commissioners considered whether to summon the owners of 906 E. 14th St., which is located in the Swede Hill Historic District. Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky explained that, because the property’s new fence is located in a historic district, the owners should have come to his office for approval.

Commissioners voted unanimously to let the fence remain without a public hearing, which Sadowsky noted would cost $1,600.

City code does not require a permit for fences that are under 6 feet. As for the preservation office approval protocol, Sadowsky said it “is unfortunately a very gray area.”

“Generally, what comes to our office to be reviewed is triggered by a permit application,” said Sadowsky. “(Had this) come into our office, we would have most likely looked at this and signed off on it. It’s just a matter of whether you want to address the neighborhood concerns.”

In this case, the fence attracted attention from a suspicious neighbor, who called the preservation office. That neighbor also reported suspected code violations, but Austin Code Assistant Director José G. Roig reported that there were no violations found.

The new fence runs around the side and back of the home, which is fronted by a white picket fence.

Photo courtesy of the city of Austin.

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