BOUNTIFUL -- A growing deer population within city boundaries is having an impact on city ordinances.
City leaders voted to amend guidelines for fencing Tuesday. The new guideline allows residents to increase the height of their fences in their backyard and side yards by an additional two feet, from 6 feet to 8 feet tall.
The change came as part of a focus on a section of the city's land-use ordinance related to fences and landscaping. Landscaping revisions to the code were originally part of a scheduled public hearing on the revisions, but were set aside so the focus could be solely on fencing requirements.
In 2010, the city teamed with the state's Division of Wildlife Resources to thin the population of domestic deer within city limits. City officials are waiting on the state agency to see what possible follow-up steps may be taken to deal with a growing deer population within city limits.
DWR estimated that as many as 500 deer are in the city, while others have suggested it is double that.
"The concept is to empower people to decide for themselves if they want to take some sort of action against deer. If they want to, this allows them to decide for themselves," Rusty Mahan, interim city manager said of the guideline.
Mahan said the timing of the guideline is also appropriate after a Dec. 1 windstorm destroyed so many fences within the city and many residents will be rebuilding or replacing those fences.
The higher fencing allowance does come with some stipulations. The higher fences must be open-style, which means the fence must be 75 percent open, according to Aric Jensen, director of planning and economic development.
Jensen said a chain-link fence is an open fence, and a split rail or a picket fence with wide gaps would qualify. He said city officials don't want higher fences to potentially lead to a bunker look.
"We didn't want it to look like a Third World country where you have bunkers," Jensen said of the new requirement.
The deer population within city boundaries has been a source of controversy for some time.
A city questionnaire, sent out in November 2009, asked residents if they wanted to take steps to control the population. It then asked about the viability of potential options, such as hiring a sharpshooter, using archers or trapping and relocating the deer. Approximately 60 percent of those responding asked the city to leave the deer alone.
That same survey showed that people were even less supportive of the idea of letting a marksman access their property in an attempt to curb the deer population.
A subsequent public hearing showed people were split as to how to handle the issue.
Protesters held demonstrations on the steps of City Hall several times during the time the culling program was being implemented.
Besides allowing residents to raise the height of their fence to fend off deer, the new land-use revisions also addressed barbed wire and electrical fence restrictions.