JUNEAU — When is a fence not a fence? Juneau city officials decided that Tuesday.

After a resident questioned if placing sticks from a tree in the ground of one’s yard serves as an actual fence, Juneau Common Council members decided Tuesday to amend its fence ordinance.

Following Alderman David Gratton reading of the amended ordinance, which requires citizens to use only milled or manufactured materials when constructing a fence within the city limits, Alderman Cheryl Braun ask if Juneau officials were placing an undue financial burden on its residents.

“Are we requiring people to spend more money?” Braun asked. “I understand allowing the freedom of expression, but I also understand uniformity. I just don’t want us to place any financial strain on our residents with this amended ordinance.”

Gratton said the amended ordinance does not allow for a resident to simply go into the woods, find a tree limb and pull branches from it to stick in the ground and use them as a fence.

Juneau Mayor Dan Wegener agreed.

“We wanted to have some regulation against people putting up rocks and brush and calling it a fence,” Wegener said.

When Braun asked if split rail fences would be allowed, Alderman Paul Shanks said they are because there is a modification of the wood to create such a fence, which is usually placed on the property line as an ornamental fence.

Juneau City Attorney Andrew Griggs said the amended ordinance is a “fair one” to pass.

“This keeps a resident from putting up something unsightly between properties,” he said. “It’s a reasonable ordinance. You’re not in the country so you’re not recommending barbed wire or razor wire.”

Griggs said split rail fences and stone walls approximately 3-4 feet in height are the exception.

Besides leaving constructed of milled or manufactured materials, the ordinance says materials that are excluded in the amended ordinance are electrical wire, barbed wire, razor wire, chicken wire, glass, any hazardous materials or thorny plants and bushes. Also, vertical members of the fence be spaced more than 4 inches apart.

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