Officials in Sagaponack Village have set a moratorium on applications for agricultural deer fencing through at least mid-December to address concerns about height and obstruction of views.
The village’s Board of Trustees approved the moratorium on Sept. 17. It suspends for 90 days any applications for agricultural fencing from either processing or approvals.
The only exception is for fencing of land used in agricultural production as defined under New York Agriculture and Markets Law Section 301.
Sagaponack Mayor Donald Louchheim said Friday that in July, three applications came before the village’s board of trustees — which also handles all planning issues since the December 2011 dissolution of the planning board — requesting agricultural fencing on lands including an agricultural preserve on Parsonage Lane and two other land parcels on Daniels Lane and Bridge Lane. Two of those applications, Parsonage and Bridge lanes, involved large tracts of land with expansive, scenic vistas. Some of the proposed fences would be as high as 8 feet tall.
“The explosion of the deer population has made fencing economically necessary for many of the farmers who had tried to operate without it in the past,” Louchheim said.
However, Louchheim added, neighbors and other residents complained the fences could potentially block those vistas. Louchheim said the village expected "many more" fencing applications in the future due to the uptick in the deer population.
“[Deer fencing] has rarely been done here in the village,” Louchheim said. “In our review of these new [applications]...we decided we really wanted to clarify the criteria in our existing code as to how, where and to whom agricultural fencing exemptions would be granted.”
The board also received a petition in favor of the moratorium that was signed by more than 100 residents.
The freeze will give the board time to create an updated code amendment that would “give what we consider to be necessary clarifications” to the code, Louchheim said.
“The village board is committed to providing any bonafide farmer in the village who feels they need agricultural fencing with their particular crops,” Louchheim said. “But we really want to put some clarifying language in the code that fencing must be for agricultural production as defined in the state Agricultural and Markets law.”
The board is aiming to have a text of the proposed fence amendment for its regular meeting Oct. 15. After that, a public hearing would be held around Nov. 10 and subsequently allow the board to pass the fencing revisions before the moratorium expires Dec. 17.