A fence dispute has divided a Sidney resident and the town government.

Late last year, 35-year-old Bob Blair built a six-foot-tall fence that runs along the road next to his house in east Sidney. Now the city wants it gone.

Andrew Newcomer, interim city attorney, wrote a letter to Blair in February giving him until March 9 to comply. According to the city, the solid wood fence violates zoning and safety laws. 

The city insists the fence is on city property along the street and blocks the view of traffic rounding the corner.

Courtesy photo
Sidney officials say Bob Blair's fence is too close to the road and want him to take it down. Blair has refused, calling it a matter of property rights and patriotism.

Blair said Wednesday he doesn't believe his fence is on city property, contending his yard extends from his house to the edge of the street. 

On top of that, it's more than a fence to him. It's a symbol of his patriotism.

On the two gates in the fence, Blair has painted an American flag and the Gadsden flag, which is yellow with a coiled snake and reads "Don't tread on me."

Sidney resident Bob Blair circulated this poster to generate support for keeping his flag fence. City officials say the fence is too close to the street and violates zoning ordinances. 

"The idea that small-town government is going to tell somebody that they have to take a flag down in their front yard is ludicrous," Blair said.

Newcomer said the city's correspondence with Blair never mentioned the flags.

“The artwork on it has nothing to do with the city's position," he said. "It’s simply a zoning matter.”

In addition to the right-of-way issue, Newcomer said the fence is too tall for codes that govern structures on traffic corners. Structures can be no more than three-feet tall on corners and next to driveways, the city says.

Blair did receive a building permit for the fence, although city officials say they believed his intent was only to replace an existing shorter fence.

The issue hasn't moved past letter correspondence between Blair and the city. But Blair, a former Sidney Sugars worker, said he has retained a lawyer and he's going to fight the city.

Blair said that he feels patriotism is important, so he added flags to the fence. It's the city zoning he doesn't agree with. In the end, he said he would just like to get on with other things.

"What we're really hoping for is that they just drop it," he said.