Putting in a new pool could mean extra expenses

Many count on the summer months to make home improvements. But, not knowing a city’s building ordinance could leave the wallet feeling much lighter.

In Elkhart, residents must apply for permits with the city to add privacy fences or backyard sheds. The most overlooked ordinance is that placing a pool in the backyard also requires the construction of a six foot fence, according to the Elkhart Zoning director.

“You can look in sale flyers and see a really nice above ground pool for $150 to $1000 and the fence could cost well in excess of the pool,” said Susan Reynolds, the Elkhart Zoning director.

The Elkhart ordinance states that any pool 30 inches or deeper must meet this requirement.

“The fence requirement is entirely for safety first and privacy,” Reynolds said. “It’s for safety of your own family and people that might wander onto your property.”

Yet, there are above ground pools that are visible on Elkhart streets – with no fences in sight.

“I don’t think this style of pool should require a fence around it,” said Elkhart resident Melissa Ball. “That is why people buy them. You can just put them up, fill them and you are good to go.”

Others said that they were happy to comply with this rule to ensure the safety of those around them.

“I did feel a lot safer keeping our kids in and the neighborhood kids out and a better eye on things,” said Elkhart resident Cherie Roberts. “When I was a child, I almost drowned. “That is one reason why it is so important in my mind.”

Rules do differ in other cities. For example, in Mishawaka, pools that are 12 inches or deeper require a four foot fence. Statewide regulations are followed in South Bend – pools that hold 42 inches or more of water require a fence.

Multiple city departments said they will first notify residents if they are not in compliance. If no efforts are made to adhere to the rules, then there may be some fines involved.

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