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$10-a-day fine for offensive fence

SHARON — Robert Frost might have said that good fences make good neighbors. But for the Board of Selectman, a fence at 10 Dakin Road has stirred up quite a bit of bad blood.

The fence in question is too close to the street and poses a problem for plows trying to remove snow from this tiny side street off the Millerton Road.

The road, a "four rod road" according to town records, has been in existence since at least April 1767. As such, it is entitled to a right of way four rods wide — approximately 66 feet, for those not familiar with the conversions — even if the paved portion is narrower. Thus, the town has the right to "remove or cause to remove any encroachments" within the span of those four rods, according to town statutes.

The property owners, Paula Josa-Jones and Pam White, were asked by the town to remove the fence several months ago. Josa-Jones and White filed a request to retain the fence, stating that it was built out of concern for the safety of their children and pets. The request was denied and the property owners did not comply with the orders of the board.

That’s when things got hairy.

On April 24, Donna J. Brooks, the town’s attorney, sent a letter to Josa-Jones and White with instructions to remove the fence at their "earliest convenience," though no later than May 24.

"The town is ultimately responsible to the public as a whole to keep all of the roads in a safe condition," the letter read. "Although it is understandable that you may have constructed the fence in ignorance of the ordinance [...] now that you are aware, the fence must be removed or set back."

Josa-Jones and White, who could not be reached for comment, were given an ultimatum: remove the fence or face a daily penalty of $10.

As of the time of publication, the fence still stood. And, as of the time of publication, the town still intended to impose the penalty, beginning Friday, May 25.

"It may not seem like a lot but it does add up," First Selectman Malcolm Brown said.

The penalty may seem harsh. But for board members, it became impossible to stay on the fence on this issue.

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