City Council passes new fencing ordinance; Some businesses required to fence in properties

Published 8:03 am Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Austin City Council unanimously voted in favor of a new ordinance that requires businesses in the I-2 industrial district to fence in outdoor storage areas during their regular meeting on Monday, July 17.

The ordinance comes in response to concerns about public safety in areas where industrial uses or industrial districts are located in close proximity to residential areas, parks, trails or are generally accessible.

“We have had concerns addressed to the City and the Council about some of the businesses in the I-2 industrial district,” said Austin Planning and Zoning Administrator Holly Wallace.

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Under the ordinance, “all materials, supplies, merchandise or other similar material not on display for use, direct sale or lease to the consumer must be enclosed in the confines of a wall or fence not to be less than six feet in height” at businesses in the I-2 industrial district.

The I-2 industrial district consists of the water treatment plant, the Hormel and Quality Pork Products plant, the area near Todd Park consisting of the Hormel annex and International Paper and the businesses in the area along Eighth Avenue Northeast and 11th Street Northeast. Several of the businesses in the Eighth Avenue Northeast and 11th Street Northeast area, located in the middle of a residential area, have outside storage.

“Some of the outdoor industrial storage areas [in I-2] are fenced in,” Wallace said. “The majority of the businesses in that zone are already fenced in as determined by their own business practices, so it did not seem like a stretch to require everyone to do this.”

Wallace said that the ordinance does not extend to businesses with indoor storage or that display merchandise for direct sale to consumers, like auto lots.

“It’s basically the outdoor storage that is going to be hauled away by someone else and sold somewhere else,” she said.

The ordinance gives property owners in the I-2 industrial district six months to comply with fencing their properties if they have not already. To avoid making it cost prohibitive, the ordinance does not require a specific material for the fences.

Other updates made in the fencing ordinance include extending the height of a solid front yard fence from 30 inches to 36 inches. Anything above that height would have to be partially see-through due to concerns of visibility. Another change requires that the better-looking side of a fence be facing outward.