BOA - July 21st 2015

Mayfield Village
July 21, 2015

The Board of Appeals met in regular session on Tues, July 21, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mayfield Village Civic Center Conference Room. Chairman Prcela presided.


Present: Mr. Joseph Prcela (Chairman), Mr. Vetus Syracuse (Chairman Pro-Tem), Mrs. Shirley Shatten, Mr. William Russ, and Mr. Stivo DiFranco

Absent: Mr. Mark Guidetti (Law Department) and Ms. Deborah Garbo (Secretary)

Also Present: Mr. John Marrelli (Building Commissioner) and Donna Heath (Acting Secretary)


Mr. Russ, seconded by Mr. DiFranco made a motion to approve the Minutes of May 19, 2015.  


Ayes: Mr. Prcela, Mr. Syracuse, Mrs. Shatten, Mr. Russ, Mr. DiFranco

Nays: None                                      

Motion Carried. Minutes Approved as Written.


Richard & Laura Storey
919 Northboro Dr.

  1. A request for a variance from Section 1157.08 (b) to allow for 32' of Semi-Provate Vinyl Fencing

Abutting Property Owners:
Northboro Drive: 911, 903, 927, 935
Aintree Park Drive: 916, 908, 924, 932
Chase Drive: 6515


Chairman Prcela recites the variance request. I am a neighbor of Mr. & Mrs. Storey’s, am friendly, so I feel it best that I recuse myself from the meeting in general. With that, I move to turn over the rest of the meeting to Vetus.

Note: Chairman Prcela recused himself from the meeting at this time.

Chairman Pro-Tem Syracuse states, as Joe said, this is a request for a variance from Section 1157.08 (b) to allow for semi-private fencing.

Mr. Marrelli said, on routine exterior inspections of the neighborhood, we detected the vinyl fence, recognizing it wasn’t one of the four allowable fences in our code. I notified Mr. Storey that he needed a permit for the fence and that it wasn’t the proper type. He explained to me it wasn’t encompassing his yard, it was more like a gate across his driveway for privacy because his dog barks at everything. I notified him that I don’t have the authority to approve any type of fence other than the four that are in our code; split rail, chain link, board on board and picket. At that point the fence was already up, so the only other alternative was to try and get relief from the Board for the solid fencing. That brings us here today.


Chairman Pro-Tem Syracuse stated that anyone wishing to speak must be sworn in, administering the oath to the Board Members, Applicants, & Appellants and asked anyone wishing to speak to state their name and address for the record.

Richard Storey, 919 Northboro Dr. introduced himself. The fence has been up for a couple years now. This came about when I was replacing the split rail on the property. Basically the whole property is split rail according to code. The section that I’m asking for a variance is up by the driveway, it’s 32’ with a gate. It’s called a semi-privacy fence. The main reason I did this is because of our dog, he’s real barky when people walk by. Second is for privacy, when Chase comes into Northboro by the stop sign, you can see into my backyard. Third is for security purposes when I’m working at the Fire Station for 24 hrs.

Chairman Pro-Tem Syracuse asked, before you put that up or any time since, have you considered trying one of the other permitted fences?

Richard Storey replied, I didn’t know there was. I was just replacing the split rail that was on the property. When I talked to John about the vinyl he said the city didn’t want people barricading / blocking in their properties. I don’t think this does in my opinion, it’s just in the front by the garage by the driveway. The side, back & rear is all open.

Mr. Marrelli said, I haven’t talked to our Police Department but I’ve talked to other Police Departments. The Cops don’t like to approach a property that they can’t see through, because they don’t know what’s on the other side. There’s a safety aspect for having these things entered that you can’t see through. Even the board on board, if somebody’s behind it you can see movement or light. If there’s somebody behind this fence, nobody will know it until they get on the other side. I’ve worked in two cities before and they didn’t allow solid walls or solid fences for that reason, i.e. if they have to approach a situation for domestic, possible robbery or break-ins. They are adamant about wanting to be able to see before they jump into something. Solid fences are good for privacy but not good if you’re on the wrong side of the law.

Richard Storey states, my fence is semi-privacy, not full-privacy, and it’s 4 feet.

Mr. Marrelli said the other fences you can see all the way to the ground. Did you have split rail gate going across your drive before?

Richard Storey replied, at one time there probably was.

Chairman Pro-Tem Syracuse said I had the opportunity to drive by and look at it. I understand that you’ve already gone through the expense of putting this up and having it up for a while. In looking at our standard for practical difficulties, I’m having trouble finding something, rather than the fact that you have a dog that barks and the security, that would make the property have a need to grant a variance for this type of fence. Putting up a board on board I think would give you the same kind of privacy and keep your dog from seeing all the things going on from your property.

Richard Storey said, I just wanted something that was no maintenance too. I’m trying to make the property look nice. I think aesthetically it looks a lot nicer instead of having another type which would warp over time.

Chairman Pro-Tem Syracuse asked if any further questions or comments.

Mr. Marrelli asked, how do you think we should handle a situation when your neighbors come in and ask if they could do this? Do you think everybody should be allowed solid fences?

Richard Storey replied, no. I think they should come to this Board and ask for a variance.

Mr. Marrelli states, I’d like some kind of verbiage in any kind of motion that this isn’t a property fence, it’s a privacy screen more than anything.

Chairman Pro-Tem Syracuse states, it’s a dangerous precedent if we were to grant this.

Mr. Marrelli states, I understand your whole situation. We have people that put in patios, hot tubs, swimming pools and they put fences around them. They’re not really a fence, it’s a site screen, a privacy screen. We allow those because they don’t meet the definition of a fence. Yours happens to look like a fence in every aspect. I’m trying to avoid having to go around and around with the next guy that wants to do it.

Richard Storey said, can we do something where you can have a certain distance? Right now I know of two houses in the Village that have full vinyl fences around their property.

Mr. Marrelli said we actually granted a variance recently because they were up against the High School property.

Richard Storey said, these two aren’t against the High School.

Mr. Marrelli said, let me suggest that anything that this Board does, I would like some disclaimer that this is not considered a fence, it’s considered a site screen, however you see fit to grant or deny any kind of a variance. Because it’s not on the property line, because it doesn’t encompass the whole yard, I would rather it be termed a privacy screen than a fence. That gives me a little bit of leverage for the next guy.

Mr. DiFranco states, I think Vetus is exactly on the spot about setting a precedent. I understand what you’re trying to do in terms of privacy. Precedent setting is what concerns me. I think the obligation of this Board partially is to prevent precedent setting when the next guy comes in. John, if he were to have submitted this for a permit as it’s designed now, if this type of fence was allowed, was it installed according to what your design standards would be?

Mr. Marrelli replied, yes. Mr. Storey’s a contractor, I don’t think he would put it in any way but better than most. He does good work. I have no problem with the work. I have no issue with the construction or the materials. It was done well.


Mrs. Shatten, seconded by Mr. Russ made a motion to approve the variance request to allow this ‘privacy site screen’ stay in place at 919 Northboro Drive. It is not a fence, it’s a privacy site screen, it matches the house, and the white follows through.


Ayes: Mrs. Shatten, Mr. Russ            

Nays: Mr. Syracuse, Mr. DiFranco                

Motion Denied. Variance Denied.    

Richard Storey states, I have a real issue with the precedent setting. I know what you’re getting at. I read your letter, it’s great. As a Village resident, I’m with you all the way. I just don’t like the precedent setting. I think it’s going to put John in a bad position. I think we’re going to see a lot more of these coming our way in terms of appeals, or we put it in ordinance to allow them.

Chairman Pro-Tem Syracuse said, we’ve taken a vote and this was denied.

Right to Appeal

Chairman Pro-Tem Syracuse stated written notice will be mailed by the Building Department confirming the decision and any interested party has the right to appeal within 10 days.

Mr. Marrelli said, I’m trying to think if there’s some way you can alter that screen to comply with our fencing ordinance. Is it adaptable at all? Could you do anything with the spacing of the boards? Are those single boards or are they panels?

Richard Storey replied, they’re single boards, they slide in.

Mr. Marrelli asked, what if you slide them apart a little bit, then that would meet the percentage of openings required by the code. If you could get the openings so we could pass the straight face test and say it’s the same as a board on board, it’s got the same size openings. The boards, instead of being together, you can slide them apart a little bit, separate them.

Chairman Pro-Tem Syracuse said, maybe that’s something you could address with Mr. Marrelli after this meeting. Does anyone have any other items to address?

There were none.


Mrs. Shatten, seconded by Mr. Russ made a motion to adjourn the meeting.


Ayes: Mr. Syracuse, Mrs. Shatten, Mr. Russ, Mr. DiFranco

Nays: None                          

Motion Carried. Meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.