Fences, neighbors and the historic Quapaw Quarter | Arkansas Blog

Fences, neighbors and the historic Quapaw Quarter

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FENCE TO GO: This stretch of fence on Louisiana Street will go as part of a compromise to fence the rest of the yard of the home.
  • FENCE TO GO: This stretch of fence on Louisiana Street will go as part of a compromise to fence the rest of the yard of the home.

A Tweet from Gabe Holmstrom last night alerts me to the final chapter of a long-running battle over fences in the historic Governor's Mansion neighborhood of the Quapaw Quarter.

Holmstrom said he won a 5-1 vote of the Capitol Zoning District Commission for approval of a fence he built higher than the normal 40-inch limit at his house on Louisiana Street. (He wanted a 48-inch fence to contain a dog.) He figured he'd found a way around the limit by putting a period iron fence on top of a concrete foundation. The planners didn't much like the foundation. The commission's design and neighborhood committees split against and for by divided votes.

UPDATE: While the battle was pitched from the beginning as use of a foundation to exceed the fence height, Holmstrom said he'd persuaded the commission that this wasn't the right way to look at the issue. He said a foundation was necessary to have a level platform for his historic iron fence. He said he would backfill the yard on the house side of the fence so that in no place where the fence remains will it exceed the 40-inch height for which he'd obtained a permit.

With that explanation, and Holmstrom's agreement to remove 19 feet of the fence in the front of the house, compromise was reached and the commission approved the deal.

Here's a complete rundown, including schematic drawing, of this particular fence saga.

That account doesn't begin to tell the whole fence story. Of how Holmstrom and another Quapaw Quarter resident on Scott Street who exceeded the fence limit had been unable to get variances from the Zoning Commission, a state-created agency that oversees zoning around the Capitol and Governor's Mansion. Of how Holmstrom, chief of staff, related his problems to a disagreeable Republican representative from far western Arkanss, Nate Bell. Of how Bell first held up the agency's budget and then tried to abolish the Capitol Zoning District Commission altogether. Of a court case lost by the other neighbor with a tall fence.  Of how the Commission held many hearings and discussed fence rules at length. Of how the agency and its fence height rule survived. Here's one of the many previous chapters.


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