The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission voted to approve a set of city staff recommendations on Monday that would add new definitions for fences and sidewalks and set forth new permitting and construction requirements for them.

The commission approved a new $100 permit application for new and replaced fences in the General Residential zone that would require submittal of property line pin locations before beginning work. Fences would be allowed only on the fence builder’s property.

Bellevue Land Use Planner Ashley Dyer said the new permit would help avoid unintended encroachments onto the property of neighbors.

“Before this, people were building fences however and wherever they wanted,” Dyer said. “This will make the rules a little more black and white.”

The measure will now head to the City Council for a vote.

If the City Council approves the recommendation, fences would be defined as “a barrier, railing or other upright structure, typically of wood or wire, enclosing an area of ground to make a boundary.”

Fence heights would be limited to 4 feet in front yards, 6 feet on side yards and in backyards, and limited to 3 feet high at road intersections.

The P&Z also recommended adding new sidewalk requirements in new subdivisions and other developments 500 feet or longer along a street. The new code would allow for in-lieu fees where no “logical connectivity” to existing sidewalks and infrastructure exists.

“Sidewalks are a necessary part of infrastructure,” said Community Development Director Diane Shay, who presented the proposed change to city code.

The new regulations would require sidewalks and drainage improvements in all zoning districts but would not be triggered by remodels or additions of single-family residences and duplexes in the General Residential zone. Residential zone sidewalks would require street trees of a specified species type and tree well grates.

Sidewalks in residential zones would need to be 5 feet wide. In Business and other zones, 8-foot-wide sidewalks would be required.

A developer or city official may propose alternatives to either the standard sidewalk location or configuration required, “such as the addition of a bike lane,” the draft code change states.

Shay said the changes to the city’s sidewalk requirements are intended to provide a “better pedestrian experience.” She said Bellevue’s street rights of way, at 80 feet, are the widest in the Wood River Valley and often are used for parking and “storing junk.”

P&Z Chairman John Kurtz said the city’s rights of way relate to the construction of sidewalks, but the city faces a “rights of way management issue” as well.

Shay said some issues relating to streets would be addressed in the weeks to come when the city staff puts out new street standards for discussion.

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