POLL: Should 8-foot fences be allowed at residential homes in the city of Fort Walton Beach?

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During Tuesday night’s Fort Walton Beach City Council meeting, the council voted to amend the Land Development Code to allow for 8-foot fences on residential properties abutting school properties.

  • The current allowable fence height in the city is 6-feet.
  • The current allowable fence height in the county is 8-feet.

After the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy, the Public Safety Commission provided a list of recommendations for schools to implement to make it safer. One of those recommendations is “Target Hardening” that says “all fencing should be constructed in a way or high enough to prevent easy climbing.

In the Fall of 2021, the Okaloosa County School District began hardening all of the schools within the county through the installation of 8-foot high perimeter fencing.

  • For residential homes next to schools, this meant they began seeing 2-feet of chainlink fence above their 6-foot fence.

“Amending fence height allowances for residential properties abutting schools will provide property owners an option to match the fence height of the new perimeter fencing on school properties,” wrote Christopher Frassetti, Growth Management Director.

During the discussion, Council-member Nic Allegretto proposed the idea of making the entire process easier to regulate by allowing 8-foot fences for all residential properties inside the city limits.

  • As Council-member David Schmidt pointed out, without this amendment, the homeowner would have to go through a lengthy, and costly ($1,500), variance process through the Local Planning Agency to potentially get the approval to build an 8-foot fence.

“I personally think 8-foot fences are great,” said Allegretto. “Every person has a different situation at their own house. Somebody might have a 3-4 foot deck on the back of their house. Somebody else’s house might be built on a higher elevation. I think that there’s a lot of people out there that would enjoy it.”

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