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Huntington eyes change to fence requirements for swimming pools

Tracey Edwards, seen here on Oct. 22, 2015,

Tracey Edwards, seen here on Oct. 22, 2015, is proposing a change to pool fence regulations in Huntington. Credit: Hans Pennink

More Huntington residents may be able to enjoy the fun of a backyard pool under changes proposed for fence requirements.

For many homeowners, the costs of adding a full fence around a yard with a pool can become prohibitive.

Huntington town officials on Tuesday are to discuss changes to town code which would allow pool owners to use their neighbor’s fence as part of the requirement for having a fence around a yard with a pool.

Huntington town code currently requires a fence at least 4 feet high be “entirely” on the property where the pool is located. It specifies that existing property line fences or walls may not be used to meet the barrier requirement. A final survey is required to show compliance.

Town board member Tracey Edwards, sponsor of the public hearing resolution, said she was approached by some homeowners who questioned the code requirement for installing a full fence around the yard if a neighbor’s fence already exists.

“The goal of this resolution is to keep children safe while reducing the cost to the homeowner,” Edwards said. “The homeowner should not have to spend extra money putting up an extra fence, which could make it less safe because the fences could be unequal in height.”

John Sheridan, owner of Huntington Fence Co., said he has installed “a lot” of double fences over the years to meet the requirement.

“A fence against a fence in some situations is very silly or looks stupid, but the reason was, what if your neighbor takes down their fence then your pool would be open, so you need your own fence, which makes sense,” Sheridan said. “But I think it should be at the inspector’s discretion. Each case is different, and for some people, every inch counts in their yard, so an extra fence may not be necessary.”

Patty Davis, acting director of communications for the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, said the agency does not comment on the laws of states and other municipalities, but does offer guidelines.

“Our pool barrier guidelines recommend fencing around the pool itself,” Davis said. “We phrase it in terms of layers of protection — you can never have too many layers of protection to protect kids from drowning.” She said the other layers include door alarms, a power safety cover over the pool, and pool alarms.

A pamphlet issued by the commission on safety barrier guidelines for residential pools states fences should be a minimum of 4 feet high, although fences 5 feet or higher are preferable. A fence completely surrounding the pool is better than one with the house serving as the fourth side, the report states.

The public hearing will be held at 2 p.m. at Town Hall, 100 Main St.

Huntington pool barrier requirements

  • The spacing in picket-style fences should not exceed 4 inches.
  • Solid barriers should be constructed so getting a foothold on the side facing away from the pool is not possible.
  • Access gates shall be securely locked with a key, combination or other childproof lock when the pool is not in use.
  • Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of the barrier, the pool must have either a powered safety cover, door alarms for doors with direct access to the pool or self-closing doors with self-latching devices.

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