City permit mix up costs homeowner thousands for useless fence

"They said they were sorry, but as a city, they're not responsible for their errors," homeowner Ashley Frazzetta said.

LAKE ST. LOUIS, Mo. — They say the grass is always greener on the other side. But one Lake St. Louis woman said she doesn't envy her neighbor's lawn, but her fence.

That's because a city mix up cost her thousands of dollars, for something she didn't want.

It all began two years ago when Ashley Frazzetta decided to build a fence for her dog Holly.

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"My dog is a runner. And so I knew for her to be comfortable, she may need a fence to keep her in," Frazzetta said.

So Frazzetta worked with the city of Lake St. Louis and got a permit for a fence she was told would fit her subdivision's strict requirements.

She made some sacrifices.

"There had to be a back gate. And it had to be about a three-inch gap between spokes," Frazzetta said.

But the fence is no match for Holly, who can easily wiggle through the space between the spokes. The fence quickly turned into a $4,700 wasted of money for Frazzetta.

"She has to be harnessed. I run into the problem where, on the leash, she got out, so then I'm trying to pull her back in," Frazzetta said.

That was almost two years ago.

So imagine Frazzetta's surprise when she says she started seeing other fences begin to dot her neighborhood. Fences that didn't meet the standards her fence was held to.

"It kind of seems like they were able to put theirs wherever they wanted," Frazzetta said.

Eventually, Frazzetta was told the harsh truth by a city employee.

"I received the wrong subdivision permit, they had received the right subdivision permit," Frazzetta said. "They said they were sorry, but as a city they're not responsible for their errors."

To found out how this happened, we asked Lake St. Louis City Administrator Paul Markworth.

"We have different types of fencing that's approved for different types of subdivisions. The reviewer looked at the fence for this subdivision and mistakenly thought it was a different type of fence," said Markworth.

Markworth admitted the city made a mistake but was hesitant to say the city would pay to right that wrong.

"I'm going to talk to the board of aldermen and the mayor and see if they want to make some remuneration if it's possible. I'm working with city staff to make those recommendations," Markworth said.

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It's some comfort to Frazzetta, who hopes one day Holly will be free to roam her yard without a leash.

"That's all I want out of this. Just a fence that my dog can go outside and play in," Frazzetta said.

Frazzetta says fixing the fence will cost upwards of $3,000.

Recommendations from the city's attorney and administrator could make it to the board of alderman by Monday.

There are only eight subdivisions in Lake St. Louis that allow fences. Each subdivision has their requirements for what that fence can look like. Markworth said, as a result of Frazzetta's experience, the city has created a document to differentiate which permits and specifications are allowed in each subdivision.