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Local News

Proposal to lift ban on electrified fences moves ahead

FedEx Freight on Monday, June 25, 2018, in Joliet, Ill. The company recently asked Joliet to change its zoning ordinances to allow electric fences.
FedEx Freight on Monday, June 25, 2018, in Joliet, Ill. The company recently asked Joliet to change its zoning ordinances to allow electric fences.

Planning staff members will explore the possibility of extending a proposed permit for electrified fences beyond industrial areas.

Two City Council members – Larry Hug and Jan Quillman – are insisting Joliet should make electric fences available to all businesses if they make it available at all.

Joliet now prohibits electrified fences.

The staff has proposed allowing them in industrial areas in response to a request from FedEx Freight, which wants to put an electrified fence around the service center it opened in May in the CenterPoint Business Center.

“We haven’t been inundated with any of these requests,” Michael Schwarz, the city’s director of planning, told the Joliet City Council Land Use and Legislative Committee this week.

He said that staff recommends a “conservative approach” to lifting the ban on electrified fences, allowing them in industrial areas now and reconsidering the restrictions elsewhere if there is interest from car dealers, retailers and other businesses.

The staff’s proposal still would require that a company get a special use permit, which would be granted on a case-by-case basis by the City Council, for an electrified fence – and the permit only would be available in areas zoned for industrial use.

Quillman, who also said she is against lifting the ban, questioned whether Joliet would open itself up for lawsuits by allowing electrified fences only in industrial areas.

“How can we allow it for some people and not for other people? Isn’t there a legal issue there?” she asked Schwarz.

Hug made a similar point Tuesday when the Public Safety Committee reviewed the proposal.

“You either do it for everybody, or you don’t do it for anybody,” Hug said.

Schwarz said he did not think there would be a legal problem with permitting the fences in industrial areas only.

“All zoning regulations are predicated on you doing things in certain zones and not doing things in other zones,” he said.

However, Schwarz said he would discuss the legalities of the zoning with City Attorney Marty Shanahan, and the planning staff members would discuss whether to extend the special use permit.

Despite the objections from Hug and Quillman, other members of the committees favored the permit for industrial areas.

Schwarz said the proposal next will go to the city Plan Commission for a public hearing. It then would require approval from city council.

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