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By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
Summit Developers seeks permission to add a retaining wall and 4-foot-high chain link fence along the northeastern corner of the Mitchell Avenue expansion now under way at RoMedical.
The block retaining wall is needed to cope with a change in grade along the side yard next to a residence and along a portion of Mitchell Avenue.
George Morgan of Summit Developers said the adjacent property owner asked for the wall and fence because she has small grandchildren who sometimes visit her residence.
“We told her we would do everything we can to improve the situation,” Morgan said.
The chain link fence, which would be a coated black, probably would not be visible within three years, Morgan said.
The city’s landscaping requirement calls for a double row of plantings at the top of the wall that must provide a complete visual separation within three years.
The Salisbury Planning Board voted 8-to-1 Tuesday in favor of the wall and chain link fence, even though the city’s Technical Review Committee recommended “decorative fencing,” something also favored by a nearby resident and the Fulton Heights Neighborhood Association as a whole.
Diane Young, the lone Planning Board vote against Summit Developers’ request, said she opposed a chain link fence’s being installed along Mitchell Avenue. She said she could not think of a single location in the neighborhood in which a chain link fence is installed along a street yard.
But other Planning Board members wrestled with what constituted decorative fencing and who would decide what fit that description.
“It’s suspect to me what a decorative fence is,” Albert Stout said.
Zoning Administrator David Phillips said the city has no guidelines for fencing, except for in locally designated historic districts. Fulton Heights is not a local district, though it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since city staff members recommended a decorative fence, Stout said at one point, they should tell the Planning Board what they have in mind. Valarie Stewart suggested that the developer might want to seek input from other neighbors.
But the board eventually decided that the additional vegetation and landscaping requirement for a complete visual separation in three years will end up hiding the chain link fence. Its recommendation goes on to City Council.
Andrew Pitner, president of the Fulton Heights Neighborhood Association, said his organization supported a more decorative type of fencing. He also expressed concerns about adequate visual separation and the damage to existing trees that has already occurred with the new building’s construction.
Phillips said the developer will be required to plant new trees if the existing ones don’t survive.
Dawn Isenberg lives across from the new medical building and within 100 feet of the corner in question. She said she now has “a lovely shot” of a red pit and the American Legion post in the distance off Lincolnton Road.
Isenberg said she would rather see a lot of trees and something more decorative than a chain link fence.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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