Lake Worth neighborhood changes when fence is taken down

Nov 12, 2017
Kevin Thompson
The fence Lake Worth’s code compliance department asked the condominimum owner to take down at 212 N. K St. (Contributed)

Brenda Smith has lived in Lake Worth more than 10 years. The 53-year-old retired office manager said she loves the city and its residents.

“Lake Worth is amazing,” Smith said.

About 2½ years ago, she paid $53,000 for a unit on 212 N. K St., a Hovianna XII condominium three blocks down the road from where she lives. Her son, Allan, 25, now lives there.

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“It’s a wonderful community, it has the courtyards and everybody is friendly with each other,” Smith said.

But there is one thing Smith, president of the condo board, has complained about the past few months — being told by a city code compliance officer to take down the courtyard’s 6-foot fence.

“Our fence is against coding violations for the type of fence it is,” Smith said. “But it was installed over 10 years ago and looked beautiful.”

Yolanda Robinson, Lake Worth’s code compliance manager, confirmed Smith’s story.

“The fence didn’t meet the historic guidelines and there was no permit for it,” Robinson said. “And we don’t allow the kind of fence they had.”

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Robinson said the condo has a PVC fence, which has become a popular alternative to traditional wood picket fences or metal rail fences.

Smith spoke with a representative from the Historical Preservation Board, but said she didn’t get anywhere. “Nobody can see this side but us,” Smith said. “We were told we would’ve been charged $500 a day if we didn’t remove the fence in 30 days.”

That’s what Smith said she did, removing the front and back part of the fence in the summer. “Now we have prostitutes running through, trying to sleep in our courtyard,” she said.

Another owner, Kicka Mears, said the situation has been horrible for residents. “We’re trying to make things better here,” said Mears, 41. “Junkies are now hanging out there and we’re afraid things will get stolen. It’s just not right.”

But the issue is not over yet.

Code recently asked to have the side fence removed as well.

“We’re having problems with vagrants running through our property since we removed our fence and there have been problems with theft,” Smith said. “If we can leave the side fence, we’ll be as happy as we can be.”

Robinson said Tamica Clinton-Bush, the code officer Smith has dealt with, gave the property’s owner a door hanger which says he has 30 days to remove the fence.

But Smith said that may not happen right away.

“We’ve been having roof issues, so our property manager hasn’t gotten to it yet,” she said. “Honestly, our property manager is really slow on things and until he gets something in writing, he’ll probably sit on it. The expense is not there for removing the side fence right now.”

Robinson said the condo board can apply for a permit to put up an allowable fence.

“We’re not telling them they can’t have a fence,” she said. “We’re just telling them they can’t have that type of fence.”