Dan Rattiner's Stories

Eight-Foot-High Fences and Privet: Where Did the Hamptons Go?

Southampton Village is considering allowing huge fences in front of homes.

Up until now in Southampton Village, it’s been against the law to build a fence along the street that the house faces. Homeowners get around this law by putting up privet six feet high, since privet is not considered a fence. It does block the view though, so it serves its purpose. No peeking in. The result has been, in many places, privet bordering the roads on both sides and you drive along through a tunnel.

This month Southampton Village is considering passing an ordinance that would allow fences to be as high as eight feet along the road, so long as they are hidden from public view, meaning they are behind the privet. The reason people want this, besides that they want privacy in their little patch of paradise, is to prevent deer from leaping over a six-foot fence of privet.

All deer can get over six-foot privet. But only a really well-muscled and determined deer could get over an eight-foot fence.

It was also noted that deer, walking along the road, often stop to nibble the privet. Many privet walls are naked of leaves from about five feet down. Bad. But the privet is thick, and deer muzzles only go in so far, so it’s still not something you can see through.

The Board held a meeting at which a professional opinion was to be offered by the Planning Commission on June 26, and after that there would be public comment invited at a further meeting.

My opinion is that eight-foot-high fences behind eight-foot privet would be awful. Where did the Hamptons go? One might even think they were somewhere else. Palm Beach, for instance. Or Hoboken. Who would know? And if a deer lift weights and can jump over 10 or 12 feet, what then?

I think eight-foot fences made of turkey wire should be allowed, but stone or wood not allowed. Privet that high? It’s happening anyway in a few places. And I forgive those well-to-do people who can afford privet that high. Eight-foot turkey wire would be a great leveler, affordable to middle class, poor and rich alike. And it would keep the deer out.

But I also think if they pass this, with turkey wire or privet covering wood or concrete, that it include an ordinance that beautiful bushes, plants and flowers be between the wall and the road for its entire length.

The reason for this is that the deer, forced out onto the road, will be desperate to get something to eat. The requirement should be that bushes, plants and flowers must be replaced after being eaten. It should be a weekly routine. Village ordinance inspectors should inspect these roads to see that it is done, or issue summonses.

I think this would also lower the incidence of deer begging at car windows, which is going on in several places now. When they get angry, they rip off windshield wipers. This can’t go on.

And it is fair that those putting up these huge walls do this. They caused this problem.

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