BEMUS POINT - The Bemus Point zoning board has tabled a request by Bemus Bay Condominiums to construct an iron fence on their lakeshore property.
At the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, Barry Swanson, a representative for Bemus Bay Condominiums, presented a case for building a fence around the lakeshore property owned by Bemus Bay Condominiums on Lakeside Drive. According to Swanson, the private shoreline property is consistently being trespassed on, resulting in trash being left on the property regularly.
The plan details a proposed 200 feet of 4-foot-high iron fence to privatize the property.
From left, Mark Prechtl, Jeff Julian, Giff Lawrence, Chris Loomis and Barbara Johnston of the village of Bemus Point zoning board met to discuss a proposal by Bemus Bay Condominiums to construct a fence around their lakeshore property last week.
P-J photo by Daniel Swanson
Mayor Bryan Dahlberg, who attended the meeting, agreed that the trespassing is an issue for the condos.
"I have to send someone down there every Monday to clean up the trash," he said. "It's not right to the owners."
According to Swanson, "no trespassing" and "private property" signs are not enough to stop individuals from trespassing.
Based on the village's Strategic Action Plan initiative, installation of sidewalks on Lakeside Drive is planned for the spring, making the fence proposal time-sensitive.
According to Swanson, the fence installation would need to be completed before the sidewalks are installed in order to avoid tearing up the newly poured sidewalks to complete the fence installation. Both projects are hoped to be completed by Memorial Day.
In response to the board's question of whether it is possible to install a removable fence, Swanson said it is an unlikely option.
"The figure we are presenting is not for a removable fence," Swanson said, adding that removable fencing would mean significantly higher cost in both fencing and the ongoing seasonal installation and removal.
The board felt that a removable fence may be beneficial so that during the winters, the fence would not incur damage from snowplows. The board also agreed that the construction of a living fence or planting trees in order to keep the property private were not suitable options.
"We don't want any more large trees planted on the lakefront," Dahlberg said, noting that once the trees mature they will obstruct the view of the lake.
Kim Walters, planning board chairperson, presented the planning board's concerns that a fence constructed in that location may obstruct the public's view of the lake from Lakeshore Drive.
Walters noted that the majority of trespassing incidents occur during three months in the summer - a time when she said the majority of the village is experiencing some degree of parking and trash issues. Walters said that a less -obstructible fence may be more suited to the situation.
"This seems like a permanent fix to a temporary problem," she said. "The iron fence proposed sends the message 'keep out' and is unwelcoming."
According to Walters, the Strategic Action Plan is focused on consistency and creating a "hometown feel" in Bemus Point and the proposed fence does not fit with those objectives. However, no specific solution was proposed.
As the board discussed options, it became clear that the decision would not be easy.
"I'm torn, because on one side, I see the need for the fence, but on the other, I see the issues with it," said Chris Loomis, co-chair of the board.
As far as access control, the board was unsure of what other options, other than a fence, would be viable to keep the property private.
"They just want their property to be their property," Swanson said in response.
The board decided to table discussion of the proposal by Bemus Bay Condominiums until representatives from the planning and zoning boards could meet with the engineers working on the Strategic Action Plan to discuss options.
One option the board considered is for the condos to install a fence that is the same type of fencing as what is planned to be used throughout the village - an option that could meet the goals of both the Strategic Action Plan and Bemus Bay Condominiums.
The Zoning Board offered to hold a special meeting before next month's scheduled zoning board meeting so that Swanson could present the Zoning Board's comments to the Bemus Bay Condominiums board. The Zoning Board and Swanson plan to reconvene to discuss viable options at the special meeting.
Currently, the village's planning and zoning boards do not have guidelines for fencing proposals - each case is considered individually. Walters suggested at the meeting that a guideline be set for future considerations of fencing proposals in the village.
The Bemus Point Zoning Board regularly meets at 7 p.m. at the Village Hall, 13 Alburtus Ave., Bemus Point.