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Fences shape up as issue for campaign
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Manteca’s never ending fence saga continues.

Manteca Planning Commissioner Gary Singh has been contacted by several Manteca residents that have received notices of violations from municipal code enforcement for running afoul of the city’s fence rules. Included is one distraught lady who — in order to comply to remove a fence the city has deemed illegal — would have to rip out fairly old redwoods.

Needless to say her fence has been in place for a number of years.

Singh says he can provide the city with a solution in one word: “variance.”

Singh believes common sense dictates not applying a one-size fits all approach especially in older sections of town that have setbacks that are different — and lots that are smaller — than the newer parts of the city.

He believes the ultimate solution may be to go through city property maintenance and use ordinances and make sure they are still applicable and make sense today.

As an example, if safety is the driving force with issues on corner lots due to visibility being limited, he believes Manteca needs a holistic approach. That might mean some fences that are in violation with the letter of the law might indeed not be a problem and therefore would  be left alone. At the same time there could be issues such as overgrown vegetation that is worse than a fence for severely compromising drivers’ line of vision that should be addressed.

As a side note, Singh was part of the Manteca Planning Commission majority that favored 7-foot fences in residential zones by right. That positon was later flipped by the Manteca City Council that has the final say.

Both Singh and fellow commission member Jeff Zellner — both of whom are running for the Manteca City Council in November — have been getting an earful from residents about the city’s fence policies and code enforcement. Both believe it will be an issue in the campaign.

Singh doesn’t believe there would be a mad rush to erect 7-foot fences if they were again made legal. He believes those most likely to want 7-foot fences have security issues such as backing up to alleys. The council’s decision last month makes all 7-foot fences erected when it was legal to do so in Manteca grandfathered in as an existing use. But any fences going forward would be 6-foot max in neighborhoods. They were careful to adhere to the 6-foot limit when they approved the 492-home Shadowbrook project this week.

Zellner, for the record, also voted to allow 7-foot fences.

New direction

in works for

Orchard Valley

Poag & McEwen — the developers that finished a major segment of the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley just as the housing crisis and Great Recession hit in 2008 — are rethinking their marketing strategy.

An effort to develop vacant space as an outlet mall has gotten little traction. That’s due in part to the changing landscape of retail driven by Internet erosion.

The firm is preparing a major revamp for Orchard Valley that will need city approval of a major use permit and planned development agreement.

The strong success of Bass Pro Shops has kept the retail center viable. Poag & McEwen is looking for ways to build on that success.