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Electric fences ban to be reviewed by Joliet Plan Commission

A ban on electric fences in city limits will be reviewed at a later date during the Joliet Plan Commission’s public hearing.

The Joliet Land Use and Legislative Committee at a recent meeting decided to advance a special use request with a positive recommendation, provided that the city’s planning department staff seeks guidance from the legal department.

FedEx is seeking electric fences to help secure items stored on its property.

City staff wants the request to be attached to a special use permit that would only be allowable in I-1 light industrial, I-2 general industrial and I-T intermodal terminal districts, all of which are industrial areas.

The city’s zoning ordinance has districts allowing uses in certain places in town.

Councilwoman Jan Quillman questioned how Joliet could limit requests of this type only to certain businesses.

“Isn’t there some type of legal issue there?” she asked.

Director of Planning Michael Schwarz responded, saying that becomes a policy decision for the council.

Quillman said she would like a legal opinion to help guide the city and its action.

“I would not be able to make a decision without the advice from legal,” she said.

Schwarz refuted the concern, saying that it’s more of a zoning matter.

The matter has been under review by the city for several months.

A ban on electric fences has been in place since the 1950s.

If approved, future special use permits for electric fences could be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

“We haven’t been inundated with any of these requests,” “We’ve only gotten a couple of inquiries, and they’ve been in the industrial and the logistics areas. They haven’t been on Jefferson Street, Republic Avenue, or Larkin Avenue.”

Schwarz said staff was trying to be conservative by creating a potential, new option for the city to handle requests of this type.

Councilman Terry Morris said he is concerned that businesses in commercial areas will start asking for electric fences.

Schwarz said staff could look further into the matter, if the city council would prefer all businesses to have a chance at having electric fences installed.

“You could look at this like a trial period, and we’re happy to see how this goes,” he said. “We can always go back and tweak the ordinance.”

At a recent meeting of the Joliet Public Safety Committee, Councilman Larry Hug said he opposes the lifting of the city’s ban on electric fences.

“You either [allow electric fences] for everybody or do it for nobody,” he said.

The special use request advanced with a positive recommendation. Voting no were Quillman and Hug.

The Joliet City Council will have the last say on whether to lift the ban on electric fences during a meeting held at a later date.

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