Borough of Alpine, NJ
Bergen County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Alpine 2-23-2011 by Ord. No. 715.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 79.
Uniform construction codes — See Ch. 97.
Zoning — See Ch. 220.
[1]
Editor's Note: This chapter also repealed former Ch. 111, Fences, adopted as Ch. XIX (Ord. No. 387) of the 1970 Revised General Ordinances, as amended.

§ 111-1 Short title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Fence Ordinance of the Borough of Alpine."

§ 111-2 Purpose.

The following standards are hereby established for the regulation of fences, walls, retaining walls, hedges and other forms of enclosures used to enclose property or portions of property within the Borough. These standards are intended to provide for the uniform fencing or other enclosing of properties situated within the Borough of Alpine, to ensure the existence of appropriate safeguards against the creation of traffic hazards or fire hazards, and to otherwise provide for the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Borough.

§ 111-3 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated.
AREA
The area of any fence shall be computed as the product of the largest horizontal width and largest vertical height of the structure from finished grade to the highest point excluding the height of cheek walls and driveway piers, pillars, posts, gates and stanchions. Area measurements shall be made from the center line of one pier, pillar, post or stanchion to the center line of the adjacent pier, pillar, post or stanchion unless otherwise provided in this chapter below.
CHEEK WALL
That portion of a fence immediately adjacent to a gate or other opening in such fence designed to create a visual transition from the pier, pillar, post or stanchion adjacent to such gate or opening and the first pier, pillar, post, or stanchion establishing the commencement of the area of the fence subject to the height limitations for fences.
FENCE
Any freestanding structure other than a wall of a building, accessory structure, or retaining wall, whether of wood, metal, wire, concrete or other material, intended to create or creating a division between or within property or to prevent or restrict the passage from one area of a property to another.
GATE
That portion of a fence which is designed and constructed to move relative to the fence structure to create, on temporary basis, an opening through the fence to allow passage of individuals or vehicles.
HEDGE
A group of bushes, shrubbery or other plant life so situated as to be similar in function and serve the same ends as a fence, also referred to as a "living fence."
HEIGHT
For all purposes under this chapter, height shall be the distance measured to the highest point of the fence or other structure being measured from the original grade at the point of measurement. Original grade shall be that grade which existed on November 1, 2010.
OPEN
For purposes of calculating the open area of a fence structure, such area shall be considered to be open if there is a clear, unfiltered, and unobstructed passage of light from one side of the fence to the other at such location. The open area shall not include the horizontal and vertical cross section of any structural or ornamental component of such fence in the line of sight.
PERSON
Any landowner, lessor, lessee, tenant or other person in possession of lands lying within the Borough.
PIER
That solid structural component of a fence or wall used to support other structural components thereof.
PILLAR
That solid structural component of a fence or wall, similar to a pier, used to support other structural components thereof but also serving a decorative or aesthetic purpose.
POST
That solid structural component of a fence or wall used to support other structural components thereof.
RETAINING WALL
A permanent structure constructed to change or preserve the finished grade of a given parcel of land by retaining the lateral pressure of adjacent soil. No portion of the retaining wall shall be exposed more than six inches above finished grade on the side of the wall on which the retained soil is located. Steps constructed within or as a part of a retaining wall to allow passage from one level to another shall be considered to be a part of such wall. Any fence constructed on or in close proximity to such retaining wall in order to comply with the safety requirements of the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code shall not be considered a part of such retaining wall but shall comply with all provisions of this chapter.
STANCHION
That structural component of a fence or wall used to support, or forming the point of connection with, gates in such fence. piers, pillars, and posts may also constitute stanchions based upon their form and function.

§ 111-4 Location and construction regulations.

A. 
General. Unless otherwise specifically noted herein or in another ordinance adopted by the Borough of Alpine, the provisions of this chapter shall apply to all fences, walls, retaining walls, hedges, and other forms of enclosures (and all parts thereof as set forth above) erected or maintained in any zoning district in the Borough. No changes to any currently existing fence, wall, retaining wall, hedge or other form of enclosure or constituent part thereof shall be permitted unless such change is consistent with this chapter or the owner of the land upon which such change is to occur has secured the approval of either the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment, as may be appropriate.
B. 
Certain fences prohibited. In no case shall any barbed wire, spiked, cloth, chipped glass, electrically charged or poultry-netting fences, temporary fences, such as snow fences, expandable fences and collapsible fences, or other similar devices be used, except during construction, either by themselves or in conjunction with or as a part of any fence or retaining wall constructed or maintained within the Borough. The foregoing notwithstanding, poultry netting and "deer fencing" shall be permitted on any lot for the purposes of protecting gardens or other plantings; provided, however, that same shall not be located in any front yard or in any required side or rear yard setback areas.
C. 
Prohibited locations.
(1) 
No fence, wall, retaining wall, hedge or living fence shall be erected or permitted in the public right-of-way by any person or entity without the express written consent and approval of the governing body.
(2) 
No fence, wall, retaining wall, hedge or living fence shall be located closer than 10 feet to a curbline or to the edge of a paved roadway.
(3) 
No fence, wall, retaining wall, hedge or living fence shall be erected on any private property in any location which creates any obstruction or interferes with any required sight triangle at the intersection of two or more public roads or in any sight triangle required as a condition of any subdivision or site plan approval. On any corner lot all fences, living fences, walls, retaining walls, and hedges adjacent to the intersection shall not exceed two feet six inches in height, measured above the curb grade within the triangular area formed by connecting with a straight line each of two points situated 30 feet distant along the curbline from the point of intersection of the two streets forming that corner.
(a) 
In any triangular area as described in Subsection C(3) above, the finished grade of any lot shall be not more than two feet six inches in height above the finished grade measured at the curbs to which such triangular area is adjacent. If the finished grade is two feet six inches in height, no shrubbery or other planting shall be permitted within such area, and if the finished grade, created either by natural contours or by the use of a retaining wall is less than two feet six inches in height above the curb grade, then any plantings within such area shall be kept to a height so that the total height of the plants above finished grade added to the height of the finished grade above curb shall in no case exceed two feet six inches.
(b) 
In the event any tree or shrubbery is located within the triangular area described in Subsection C(3) above exceeds two feet six inches in height measured along its main trunk or branch, it shall have no branches nearer than eight feet to the ground.
D. 
Maximum permissible heights.
(1) 
Hedges and living fences. There shall be no height limitation on hedges and living fences. Under no circumstances, however, shall a hedge or living fence be planted closer than three feet to any property line.
(2) 
Fences excluding cheek walls, piers, pillars, posts, stanchions and gates.
(a) 
In any yard abutting a public right-of-way with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or higher, the maximum height of any portion of a fence (excluding cheek walls, piers, pillars, posts, stanchions or gates) shall not exceed six feet. In the event that the posted speed limit is less than 35 miles per hour, the maximum height of any portion of a fence (excluding cheek walls, piers, pillars, posts, stanchions or gates) in the yard abutting the public right-of-way shall not exceed six feet ; provided, however, that the maximum height of any portion of the fence which is not at least 50% open shall not exceed four feet.
(b) 
Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding Subsection D(2)(a), a solid fence may be constructed up to a height of six feet on any lot in that area determined by the following boundaries:
[1] 
The rear lot line.
[2] 
A line parallel to the rear lot line drawn from the rear of the house to the street line.
[3] 
On a corner lot, a line drawn parallel to and 15 feet from the side street line in the R-R, R-A, RAA, R-1 and R-2 Districts and five feet from the side street line in the R-2A, R-2B and R-3 Districts.
(c) 
Unless otherwise provided in this chapter, no fence shall be located in any portion of a lot not included within the required yard areas unless such fence does not exceed the height of six feet if more than 50% open and unobstructed or four feet if having any portion that is less than 50% open and unobstructed.
(d) 
In the event a fence is constructed with both solid (or less than 50% open) and open portions, whether adjacent side by side or top to bottom, the height of such fence shall not exceed the maximum allowable height for solid fences in such location.
(e) 
Unless otherwise permitted in this chapter, no fence within any side or rear yard shall exceed six feet in height.
(3) 
Cheek walls.
(a) 
In the event that a cheek wall is to be constructed as part of a fence, the average height of the cheek wall shall not be greater that the average of the height of the fence (excluding cheek walls, piers, pillars, stanchions and gates) at the point where the fence terminates and the cheek wall begins and the height of the pier, pillar or stanchion to which the cheek wall attaches at the other end.
(4) 
Piers, pillars, or posts. No pier, pillar, or post forming any part of a fence shall exceed the height of the fence of which it is part (excluding cheek walls, piers, pillars, posts, stanchions or gates) by more than one foot. In no event shall any pier, pillar, or post exceed 9.5 feet in height.
(5) 
Gates. No gate shall exceed eight feet in height at its highest point. In addition, no portion of any gate which is not at least 50% open shall extend above the maximum height set forth for fences.
(6) 
Ornamentation and lighting. In the event that a decorative ornamentation or lighting is added to the top of a pier, pillar, post or stanchion, the total height of such pier, pillar, post or stanchion inclusive of such ornamentation shall not exceed 9.5 feet in height. Further, no lights shall be installed as part of any fence other than on those piers immediately adjacent to a gate. Any such light shall be limited to 150 watts.
E. 
Maximum length of cheek walls. The length of any cheek wall shall not exceed the width of the driveway or other opening in the fence to which it is adjacent. A cheek wall shall be permitted on each side of the opening.
F. 
Spacing of piers, pillars, posts. Piers, pillars and or posts shall not be spaced less than 20 feet apart (center line to center line). The horizontal dimension of a pier, pillar, or post shall not exceed 12 1/2% of the distance between such pier, pillar, or post and the closest adjacent pier, pillar, or post.
G. 
Gate location. No gate providing access to a public road with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or greater shall be located closer than 25 feet to the edge of pavement. No gate providing access to any other public road shall be closer than 20 feet to the edge of pavement. If a gate is constructed on any driveway accessing a public road, the clear travel opening from the road to a point not less than 20 feet from the curbline shall not be less than 13 feet six inches, and there shall be no solid obstructions in the area extending from the curbline to a point 20 feet from the curbline, 25 feet in width at the curbline and 13 feet six inches in width at the twenty-foot point, which area shall be centered on the driveway center line.
H. 
Gate control. In the event that a gate is installed which is operated electronically, such gate shall have an opening device approved by the Fire Official in consultation with the Fire Chief and Police Chief and have a provision to automatically open and remain open during alarm activation or power failure to allow emergency services to access the property without delay in the event of an emergency. Any manually operated gate which can be locked or barred shall have a Knox Box or other device approved by the Fire Official in consultation with the Fire Chief and Police Chief providing for emergency opening.

§ 111-5 Retaining walls.

The provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to prohibit any necessary retaining wall or prohibit the erection of fencing associated with such retaining walls as required by the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code.

§ 111-6 Tennis courts.

Fences up to 10 feet in height, as required around a tennis court, shall be permitted and are considered structures requiring a New Jersey Uniform Construction Code permit. They shall meet the minimum side yard, front yard and rear yard requirements for an accessory building as detailed in the Borough of Alpine Zoning Code.

§ 111-7 Pool enclosures.

Fences that enclose pools and property line fences that are used to enclose pools shall also meet the requirements of the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code and shall be maintained in compliance with that Code.

§ 111-8 Maintenance.

Whenever the owner, tenant or person responsible for a particular parcel of land erects a fence or hedge in accordance with the terms of this chapter, (s)he shall be responsible for continually maintaining such fence or hedge. Any fence hereafter erected shall have the least objectionable side facing the adjacent property or the street, as the case may be. Fences which are painted shall be painted in complementary colors, harmonious with the surrounding area. Fences shall be erected in a manner so as to permit the flow of natural drainage and shall not cause surface water to be blocked or dammed to create ponding.

§ 111-9 Enforcement.

A. 
Enforcement officer. The Construction Official and the Property Maintenance Officer are hereby designated as the public officers charged with the enforcement of the terms of this chapter.
B. 
Police enforcement. The Police Department shall make diligent effort in performing its normal police duties to observe the condition of property at all intersections and to initiate a report, in writing, directly to the Construction Official regarding any sight obstruction without having previously received a citizen's complaint concerning the violation.
C. 
Complaints.
(1) 
All complaints which allege violation of any of the terms of this chapter shall be submitted, in writing, to the Alpine Building Department. Upon receiving such written complaint, the Construction Official or Property Maintenance Official shall investigate the facts alleged and where, in his/her judgment, it appears that a violation of the terms of this chapter exists, (s)he shall issue a complaint returnable before the Municipal Judge.
(2) 
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized also to initiate such investigation, or delegate such authority to a member of the Police Department.
D. 
Notice of violation. Before a complaint is issued, the Enforcement Officer shall give notification thereof of his/her intent to issue a complaint stating the alleged violation so that the person responsible for the condition shall have an opportunity to abate such condition within the period prescribed by this chapter.

§ 111-10 Correction and removal of violation; lien.

A. 
Removal by owner. Where plant life, fences, retaining walls or hedges exist in violation of the terms of this chapter, or where the existence of certain fences or hedges shall have created or tend to create a hazard when considered alone or in connection with other fences or hedges, the person responsible for the condition shall correct the condition within 30 days of being mailed a written notice by the Enforcement Officer, by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of such persons, describing the violation.
B. 
Removal by borough, lien. In the event that such corrective action is not taken, the Enforcement Officer is authorized to take independent action to see that such violation is corrected and shall certify the cost thereof to the Mayor and Council, who shall examine the certification and, if found to be correct, shall cause the cost as shown thereon to be charged against such lands to become a lien thereon and to be added to and become a part of the taxes next to be assessed and levied upon such lands.

§ 111-11 Appeals; fees.

A. 
Any person aggrieved by the terms or this chapter may apply to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for an exception or variance from any provisions of this chapter and such application shall be the same as that prescribed for other variances before that Board; provided, however, that in no case shall the terms of this chapter be varied, unless such variance will not be a substantial detriment to the public health, welfare and safety and will not impair the intent and purpose of this chapter. In the event that an exception or waiver is sought in connection with any subdivision or site plan application, such request may be heard and decided by the Planning Board in connection with such application.
B. 
Fees. There shall be paid to the Borough at the time of filing an application to the Zoning Board of Adjustment or Planning Board as appropriate under this section a nonrefundable fee of $75.

§ 111-12 Nonconforming fences.

Any fence, hedge or retaining wall existing on the date of adoption of this chapter, which is in compliance with all other ordinances of the Borough in effect prior to such date of adoption, but which is contrary to the provisions of this chapter, henceforth shall be deemed a nonconforming appurtenance and shall be treated as are nonconforming uses under the current zoning regulations; provided, however, that any fence, hedge or retaining wall which exists on the date of adoption of this chapter and violates the provisions of § 111-4C shall be modified and corrected so as to remove the nonconformity. Such modification or correction shall be accomplished no later than 90 days from the effective date of this chapter. The correction of this type of nonconformity is necessary for the general safety and welfare of the citizens of Alpine and to preserve and protect human lives from injury.

§ 111-13 Registration requirements; permit fees.

A. 
Required. Any person prior to erecting a fence or retaining wall which is regulated by this chapter after the effective date of this chapter shall apply for a permit for such fence or retaining wall by notifying the Building Department, in writing, on a form which the Borough shall supply. The application shall include the full name of the owner of record of the property; the address of the property, including the lot and block; a brief description of the fence or wall, including its size, type and construction material; and a sketch or survey showing the approximate location of the fence or retaining wall in relationship to the property lines and its relationship to existing structures and septic fields.
B. 
Construction permit.
[Amended 4-22-2015 by Ord. No. 754]
(1) 
Persons who file an application shall, upon receiving approval from the Alpine Building Department, obtain a construction permit upon the payment to the Construction Official of a fee of:
(a) 
Residential: $35 per $1,000 of estimated cost of work, provided that the minimum residential fee shall be $90; and
(b) 
Commercial: $50 per $1,000 of estimated cost of work, provided that the minimum commercial fee shall be $200.
(2) 
The Building Department, upon completion of construction, shall notify the Assessor so that the information can be recorded on the permanent record card for the particular tract or parcel upon which the fence or retaining wall has been erected.

§ 111-14 Violations and penalties.

Any person who violates any provision of this chapter, for each and every violation thereof, and for each and every day that such violation thereof continues, shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 per violation, at the discretion of the Municipal Judge.