[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Thornbury 11-19-1996 by Ord. No. 1996-6 (Ch. 19, Parts 1 through 6, of the 1983 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The general intent of this chapter is to regulate and set forth provisions for the erection and maintenance of perimeter fences.
The words and phrases as used in this chapter shall have the meanings as hereinafter set forth, unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- An earthen embankment which serves purposes such as retaining/detaining the flow of surface water runoff, preventing soil erosion or supporting plant materials to aid in screening.
- BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
- The Board of Supervisors of Thornbury Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.
- A barrier of posts or boards, mesh, pickets, etc., generally 75% open, allowing maximum visibility through the plane of the fence material.
- FREESTANDING WALL
- A solid surface that is without openings.
- PLANTED SCREEN
- A barrier of natural plantings, such as shrubs, trees, hedges and other natural plantings.
- RETAINING WALL
- A structural barrier restraining earth movement at a higher elevation on one side.
- A barrier of posts and boards, panels, etc., generally consisting of a few openings providing minimum visibility through the plane of screen material that is a minimum of 75% opaque (solid density).
- TEMPORARY FENCE
- Temporary fences (such as snow fences, expandable or collapsible fences) are permitted only by special permission of the Zoning Officer during a construction project or the snow season.
- Thornbury Township, Chester County.
- ZONING OFFICER
- The officially designated Zoning Officer of Thornbury Township, Chester County.
In all zoning districts, trees, shrubs and other plantings are permitted, provided that they do not block the clear sight distance for vehicular traffic.
Fences, walls or other structures and hedges or plantings shall not be located at street corners so as to interfere with the vision clearance across the sight triangle of the corner lots. Their height is restricted to three feet within the sight triangle. The sight triangle is that triangular area lying between the intersection of two streets, and the line of sight across the corner lots from points at a given distance along the center line of each street.
No fence shall contain barbs or similar types of injurious materials or configurations, unless specifically approved by the Zoning Officer for appropriate reasons and circumstances, such as the containment of livestock or high-level security. Chain-link or woven wire fences must have the top selvage edge knuckled and not barbed.
Barbed wire and above-ground electrified fences are strictly prohibited in all residential areas, unless specifically approved by the Zoning Officer in accordance with § 76-5 above.
Gates must open onto the owner's property.
Fences, walls or screens. Fences, walls or screens may be erected in the front, side and rear yards of properties in residential districts. The height shall be no more than six feet in any yard. On a corner lot, the fence, well or screen must comply with § 76-4 of this chapter. Fences and screens may be bare, painted or plastic coated and be constructed of wood, metal chain link, woven, welded, galvanized, steel, aluminum, recycled plastic, trees or shrubs.
Retaining walls. Retaining walls may be erected along any property line where it is required to prevent a landslide or other hazardous condition. Tops of walls over four feet in height shall be required to be protected by a fence, wall or screen to prohibit individuals from falling from or over the elevation change when the Zoning Officer deems the retaining wall has created a dangerous condition. Retaining walls may be constructed of stone, concrete or brick masonry, cribbing of steel or concrete, as well as wood timbers pressure-treated for decay or steel sheet piling.
Freestanding walls. Freestanding walls may be constructed of stone, poured or precast concrete, brick or tile masonry.
Right-of-way. Subject to the provisions of § 76-13, a fence, screen or wall cannot be erected in a public or dedicated right-of-way. The Board of Supervisors shall be entitled to grant a waiver from this provision, where the location of the structure and depth of the yard render compliance with this requirement impossible.
Pools. Every swimming pool must be enclosed by a four-foot minimum height fence, wall or deck with a lockable gate to prevent uncontrolled access to the pool. All decks above grade must be enclosed by a four-foot minimum height fence with a lockable gate to prevent uncontrolled access to the pool.
Setbacks. A fence, screen or wall must be located completely on the owner's property and no closer than six inches to a property line, unless there is an agreement, in writing, by the owner and the adjoining property owner. A copy of the signed agreement must be submitted with the application to the Zoning Officer.
Fence orientation. Unless a waiver is obtained from the Board of Supervisors for good cause shown, the finished or good side of the fence shall be erected toward the neighbor and/or public area.
Agricultural and open space fences. Agricultural properties located in the township's Agricultural Security District and properties designated as open space on development plans approved by the Board of Supervisors shall be entitled to waivers from the provisions of this chapter granted by the Board of Supervisors where it is demonstrated to the Board that the strict application of its provisions works a hardship upon the conduct of actual agricultural operations or is unnecessary to the open space purposes.
Planted screen. A planted screen required by any ordinance of the township for the screening of buffer zones and commercial and industrial uses shall be a minimum of 75% solid density and with a type of planting material that provides a year-round visual barrier within two growing seasons of the initial plantings. The minimum height at the time of planting shall be five feet; however, additional height may be required where it is deemed necessary by the Board of Supervisors to achieve adequate visual screening of the commercial or industrial use.
Man-made materials. Fences or walls required by any ordinance of the township for the screening of buffer zones and commercial and industrial uses shall be a minimum of 75% solid density and of maximum height specified in this chapter. The minimum height shall be five feet; however, additional height may be required where it is deemed necessary by the Board of Supervisors to achieve adequate visual screening of the commercial or industrial use.
Special requirements. Additional heights of fences, walls or screens may be required where it is deemed necessary by the Board of Supervisors because of land contours or sight line difficulties. Fences in any commercial, industrial or industrial park district may not exceed eight feet in height.
Prior to the erection of a fence, wall or screen, a permit must be obtained from the township. The application must be accompanied by a sketch plan to scale showing the proposed fence, wall or screen location. No fence, screen or wall installation may proceed until the staked location has been verified on the property side by the Zoning Officer. The township, however, shall not be liable for improperly staked fences, walls or screens.
The fence, wall or screen owner is solely responsible for the continued maintenance of any fence, wall or screen.
If a fence, wall or screen is not properly maintained, or is deemed unsafe or is damaged, destroyed or deteriorated, the fence, screen or wall owner must remove, replace or repair the fence, screen or wall within 30 days of receipt of written notice from the Zoning Officer.
All fences, screens or walls erected prior to enactment of this chapter will not be subject to all of the requirements contained in this chapter, except in those cases where the Board of Supervisors determines that a dangerous condition exists, in which event the condition shall be corrected and brought into substantial compliance with the requirements of this chapter; however, they are subject to all the requirements of continued maintenance as described in this chapter.
Any fence, screen or wall owners who violate any of the regulations and maintenance notifications contained in this chapter shall be considered in violation of the chapter and subject to the penalties prescribed in Subsection B.
Any person who violates or permits the violation of any provision of this chapter shall, upon being found liable therefor in a civil enforcement proceeding commenced by the Township before a District Justice, pay a fine for each such violation in an amount of not less than $100, not more than $600, plus all court costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the township. No judgment shall be imposed until the date of the determination of a violation by the District Justice. If the defendant neither pays nor timely appeals the judgment, the township may enforce the judgment pursuant to the applicable Rules of Civil Procedure.