I go to down to our little Town Hall, just to stay on the right side of the law, to make a cautious inquiry. Town Hall sits in a nice old colonial house in the center of town, with a brick addition on the back. “It’s about a pool fence,” I tell the receptionist, who is doing nothing at all. “P&Z”, she replies. I go up the stairs to P&Z, and wait for 20 minutes while it is decided that it is OK with the all-wise and all-knowing government for someone to install central vacuuming in their house.
“It’s about a fence,” I finally am able to say. “Go the Building Dept.” I go to Building Dept., where there are two guys hanging around the desk. “It’s about a pool fence.” The guy is friendly and helpful. “Show me where on the map.” I show him the property, and he says “Got to go to Wetlands first.”
I am now running short on time. I go down the stairs and to the back to Wetlands. The nice young lady takes about 20 minutes to determine that the obvious fact that my property abuts a river. “You can’t build a new fence there – that’s a high-velocity flood zone.”
“But I am required to have a fence around the pool”, I insist, “because the town requires it”. And then I made a foolish error, mainly because I was impatient and had limited time. “The old fence was washed away when Katrina blew through here in the fall, so all I need to know is whether it is OK to replace it.”
“An unfenced pool? That is a zoning violation. I am obligated to inform the P&Z inspector.” I sputtered “But but but..I only need to replace it.” She replied “We will need it inspected first, but you are probably currently in violation, because we take pool safety seriously in this town. But construction in a wetlands flood zone will require a variance and a hearing which will take several months to schedule. You can begin by filling out these forms”, she said, handing me a packet about one inch thick. “Honestly, I might suggest to you that you get a local lawyer to represent you in this matter, because these issues become complicated, especially when you want something grandfathered.”
05 May 2008