Greencastle Borough committee ponders controversial ordinances

Ron Borg’s fence at 155 S. Washington St. is grandfathered in. He and his wife Jan installed it around 2003 for the aesthetics and to contain their dogs. Five years later the borough outlawed front yard fences, but is reconsidering.

As a result of recent Greencastle Zoning Hearing Board appeals, the borough is taking another look at several ordinances. Citizens have sought exemptions from rules on signs and walls because their situations did not exactly fit those addressed in the ordinances.

The Community Development Committee met June 15 to analyze a draft created by borough manager Susan Armstrong and solicitor Sam Wiser. They came up with a few changes again, and plan to have the final version adopted at the July 6 council meeting.

Charles Eckstine, Larry Faight, Frank Webster Jr. and Wade Burkholder looked over the problem wording of the current borough code.

“Your definition of signs is very broad,” said Wiser.

The revision expanded parameters on where signs would be prohibited, such as utility poles common for yard sale advertisements; how sides of parked trailers should be handled; and the rules for businesses.

“One has bothered me since our last re-write,” said Armstrong. “Sandwich boards. The majority of municipalities require them as close to the facade as possible.”

The number of signs allowed per business will likely increase, if the full council approves the recommendations.

Along with defining a retaining wall, which did not exist in the current ordinance, the committee clarified fencing terms, and was open to allowing them in front yards in town. Since 2008, the erection of new fences was only permitted in side and back yards.

“Other towns permit them,” Armstrong commented. “Greencastle is a charming place. What’s more charming than a fence if kept in good repair?”

The new ordinance sections will be advertised and then reviewed by borough council prior to a vote.