No to an Eight-Foot Fence

A Sagaponack resident’s application for an eight-foot-high deer fence along most of the perimeter of a nearly 34-acre agricultural reserve was denied by the Sagaponack Village Board on Monday.

Kimberly Lippmann, the applicant, had been seeking approval since last summer for the mile-long fence, explaining she was trying to establish a working farm on her property at 129 Parsonage Lane.

At the time, the village code limited deer fencing to properties in agricultural production and did not differentiate between farmers who wanted fences to protect cash crops and homeowners who were growing fruits and vegetables.

Her application, and a similar one from a Bridge Lane resident, convinced the board the code needed clarification to address an inherent conflict between two tenets of the Sagaponack Comprehensive Plan, the preservation of working farms versus the protection of scenic vistas.

 The board enacted a 90-day moratorium on deer fencing in September while it worked on rewriting the code. Then, in November, it passed a new law that defines agricultural production as a commercial enterprise and, among other provisions, requires applicants to explore alternative types and heights of fences and to install fencing in a manner that protects scenic vistas. 

While waiting for approval on an eight-foot-high fence, Ms. Lippmann installed one that is six feet high, the height allowed around residences, on part of her land. The eight-foot-high fence she applied for would not completely enclose the preserve because it allowed land owned by a neighbor to the north to go unprotected. 

On Monday, the board, in a 4-to-1 vote, denied the eight-foot-high fence.  Mayor Donald Louchheim said the six-foot-high fence Ms. Lippmann had installed could be construed as a viable alternative. He added that since she was allowing a portion of the reserve to remain open, thus allowing entry for deer, that would defeat the purpose of an eight-foot-high fence. 

The mayor encouraged Ms. Lippmann to submit a new application. She expressed frustration at having to go through the process again, and said the board’s denial would lead to “a poor outcome for the future of farming in our community.”