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Judge orders controversial Watertown fence moved

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WATERTOWN — State Supreme Court Judge James P. McClusky on Thursday gave a Mullin Street man 30 days to move a chain-link fence that violates the city’s fence ordinance.

In an oral ruling issued from the bench, Judge McClusky found that the city had properly enacted the regulation and that it had the authority to enforce it against Jacob S. Johnson, 261 Mullin St., who had erected the fence last summer knowing that it violated city code.

In January, the city filed suit against Mr. Johnson, seeking an order compelling him to take down or move the fence to comply with the code. The city maintained that Mr. Johnson never obtained a permit for the fence and that it violates the ordinance because chain-link fences are prohibited in residential areas within 20 feet of the street. The city further contended the fence is illegal because it is within 5 feet of Mr. Johnson’s two neighbors’ driveways. Judge McClusky’s ruling did not extend to that aspect of the city’s argument as the judge ruled the fence was illegal based on the 20-foot setback requirement.

After his court loss, Mr. Johnson appeared at the city’s Code Enforcement office to talk about his plans for the fence, meeting privately with Code Enforcement Supervisor Shawn R. McWayne.

Mr. Johnson declined to comment before going into the meeting with Mr. McWayne. Mr. McWayne was not available to comment afterward.

Times staff writer Craig Fox contributed to this report.

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