Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Couple Files Fence Dispute Suit against Topeka ; Fence: Board of Zoning Appeals Upheld Zoning Inspector's Findings

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Couple Files Fence Dispute Suit against Topeka ; Fence: Board of Zoning Appeals Upheld Zoning Inspector's Findings

Article excerpt

The city of Topeka granted a permit allowing a couple to build a fence on their property, then -- after the fence was built -- demanded that they move it, according to a lawsuit petition filed last month.

City officials say the fence was built in a manner that violated the previously established rules of the Westboro Neighborhood Conservation District.

Attorney Tom Lemon filed the petition Sept. 8 in Shawnee County District Court on behalf of Westboro residents Patrick and Christina Habiger.

The suit makes requests that include asking the court to void the city's determination that the fence at the Habigers' property at 1314 S.W. Pembroke Lane was built in violation of city zoning regulations.

The city granted a permit last January authorizing Kansas Fence Co. to build the 4-foot, wrought-iron fence on property the Habigers purchased that month.

The fence, which extends in the backyard to a chain-link fence that goes along the rear of the property, runs westward along the property's southern side and goes past the front of the house before curling back and connecting with the house's southwest corner.

The Habigers' lawsuit petition says they received a letter dated May 11 from city zoning inspector Becky Esopi saying the fence was built in front of the front face of their house, and had to be moved back so it didn't extend past the front porch on the front face.

The couple learned that a city employee, acting on a citizen complaint, had inspected their property and concluded the presence of the fence in front of the front face violated the Westboro Neighborhood Conservation District Plan.

The Westboro Neighborhood Conservation District was established after the Topeka City Council voted in May 2013 to enable neighborhoods to form such districts to protect property values and keep out incompatible developments contrary to their established character.

Such districts function sort of like the covenants sometimes put in place to restrict property uses by homeowner's associations, which generally aren't present in older neighborhoods such as Westboro, city planning director Bill Fiander said. …

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