Fences: What You Need to Know

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The MKNA Land Use Committee receives a lot of questions from residents about fences: what types, heights and locations are allowed. Residents/contractors are not required to get a permit to erect a fence, however, not all fences are allowed in all locations. Before you incur the expense of installing a new fence, we suggest that you familiarize yourself with the Indianapolis ordinance on fences (Sec. 744-510). Also note that existing fences are not necessarily “grandfathered” and could still be the subject of enforcement action by the City if they are out of compliance. 

Please do not rely on fence contractors to comply with the ordinance. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure all fences are in compliance.

Fence Materials

  • NO razor wire or electrified fencing 
  • NO recycled or scrap materials shall be used to construct the fence
  • Fences shall be constructed of wood, stone, brick, decorative concrete block, wrought iron (or products created to resemble these materials), vegetated cellular confinement system, or other material compatible with the primary building materials, or a combination of these materials.
  • Chain link fencing or wire fencing is technically allowed in accordance with Table 744-510-1 (below) but strongly discouraged by the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Plan

Table 744-510-1: Chain link and Wire Fencing 

Districts Chain link or wire fencing
DA, D-S, D-1, D-2, D-3, D-4, D-5, D-5II, D-8 (single-and two-family dwellings), PK-I, SU-8, SU-43, SU-46 Allowed in all yards. 
D-6, D-6II, D-7, D-8, D-9, D-10, D-11, HD-I, HD-II, UQ-I, UQ-II, PK-II, All Commercial Districts, All Mixed-Use Districts, All Central Business Districts, SU-1, SU-2, SU-3, SU-5, SU-6, SU-7, SU-9, SU-34, SU-35, SU-37, SU-38, SU-41, SU-42, SU-44, SU-45 Allowed in the side or rear yards provided it is coated in black, brown, or dark green vinyl or equivalent and shall not use slats. 
All Industrial Districts, SU-10, SU-13, SU-16, SU-18, SU-23, SU-28, SU-39 Allowed in the side or rear yards. Allowed in the front yard of all Industrial Districts. In the listed Special Use Districts, allowed in the front yard if coated in black, brown, or dark green vinyl or equivalent. Slats within the chain-link fence are not permitted in the front yard or any transitional yard. 

Fence Height

The maximum fence height in ALL dwelling districts for the front yard is 3.5′, maximum height in front yard if 30% opacity or less, 4′. Maximum height in side and rear yards: 6′.

Lots with Two Street Frontages (through lots)

For through lots, fences or walls located in any front yard that does not serve as the primary entrance for a dwelling unit and does not abut a lot with a dwelling unit that has a front yard on that street, may be up to 6′ in height, provided that any fence or wall exceeding 42″ in height does not extend beyond the building line established by the abutting lots.


Corner Lots

Fences or walls located in any yard that a) does not serve as the primary entrance for a dwelling unit, and b) does not face the primary entrance of a dwelling unit across the street, may be up to six feet (6′) in height. However, in no instance shall any fence or wall exceeding 42” in height extend beyond the building line containing the primary entrance.

In other words, if your corner lot faces the entrance of another dwelling unit, your fence must not exceed 3.5’ in height. If your corner lot does not face an entrance of another dwelling unit, it may be up to 6″ in height, so long as it does not extend beyond the building line containing the primary entrance to your home. 

There is a lot of information contained above, and it can be confusing. If you have any doubts about the legality of a fence you’d like to install, we urge you to reach out to MKNA and we would be happy to discuss your project and provide guidance. It has been the experience of the land use committee that variances are seldom granted for fences that are not compliant with the ordinance, which is an expensive and lengthy process for residents. To avoid the expense and frustration of requesting a variance of development standards we encourage residents interested in installing a new fence to familiarize themselves with the requirements above and ensure compliance before construction begins. 

Source: City of Indianapolis Fence Ordiance


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