[Market-farming] The town and highway laws of the State of New York... - Google Books

Road's End Farm organic87 at frontiernet.net
Wed Mar 30 22:56:28 EDT 2011

On Mar 30, 2011, at 6:09 PM, Mike Rock wrote:

> http://books.google.com/books?id=wtMSAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA155&dq=new+york+state+fence+law&hl=en&ei=IqiTTfjcJJOz0QGH_uDMBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CFMQ6AEwBTgK#v 
> =onepage&q=new%20york%20state%20fence%20law&f=false
> Again, read and understand.  Pretty darned clear....page after page  
> of it, still on the books.  YOU must fence or be liable.  Covers  
> 'Division Fence', between adjoining properties.
> Mike :(
> It's the law.

On Mar 30, 2011, at 5:35 PM, Mike Rock wrote:

> I will call the county agent in your county tomorrow or a Finger  
> Lakes county and clarify.  Also, NEW YORK has some of the oldest  
> fence viewing laws in the nation.  Upstate I was with a friend who  
> was a fence viewer for the township.  His job was to  read the law  
> to farmers and arbitrate disputes on boundaries.
> Mike


Mike, I really don't want to get into a long argument about this  
(though I've got to admit, I seem to be doing so anyway.) The book  
quote above is discussing fence law from the 1880's. This tells me  
nothing whatsoever about what the law is in New York State in 2011  
(though I can tell you that the town I'm in, at least, no longer has  
any such position as "fence viewer." Maybe some towns still do; though  
if so, I expect they have trouble filling the office unless it pays  
more than the "one dollar and fifty cents per diem" stated by the book  
you found above.)

New York State may indeed have current laws about fences. I doubt that  
they require a person with no livestock to pay for half of the  
neighbor's fence, which is what your original post said; I certainly  
might be wrong about that, but you haven't posted anything to show  
that it's current law. In any case, all I meant by my original post on  
this was that I think Wyatt needs to find out what the laws are,  
currently, in his specific location. As I'm not the one having the  
problem, and as Wyatt is not in New York State (I just took another  
look at his original post and see that he's in Ohio), I think you can  
save your time tomorrow and not bother to call New York county agents  
about this.

-- OK, I just got curious and went and googled New York and fence  
viewer and actually came up with some relatively current information,  
The information is in the form of a PDF from the State of Nebraska,  
which apparently does indeed currently have a law that fits your  
original description. It also includes the following paragraph:  

The issue of whether the requirement that a landowner without  
livestock be required to pay for part of a fence to keep the  
neighbor’s livestock off his land has been challenged in court. In New  
York and Vermont the State Supreme Courts ruled that such a  
requirement was unconstitutional as against the non- livestock owning  
landowner. Sweeney v. Murphy, 334 N.Y.S.2d 239, affirmed 294 N.E.2d  
855 (1973); Choquette v. Perrault, 569 A.2d 455 (Vt. 1989). However,  
courts in Virginia and Iowa have upheld the legality of division fence  
statutes similar to Nebraska’s. Holly Hill Farm v. Rowe, 404 S.E.2d 48  
(Va. 1991); Gravert v. Nebergall, 539 N.W.2d 194 (Iowa 1995). These  
cases, as a minimum suggest that the 50-50 split of LB667's division  
fence costs might be unconstitutional.

(you can find the whole pdf here:)

So apparently Nebraska, Virginia, and Iowa do have, or had recently,  
laws such as you originally described; but New York and Vermont do not  
(though New York and Vermont may have other laws about fences).

In any case, I stand by my original opinion, which was that Wyatt  
needs to find out what the law is where he is, as not every state in  
the USA has exactly the same laws.

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale

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