By Mike Miller
Ohio lawmakers made a major revision to Ohioâ€™s line fence law this summer. Gov. Ted Strickland signed the line fence law H.B. 323 on June 27, and the new law will be effective beginning Sept. 30.
Hereâ€™s a quick summary of the billâ€™s major provisions:
New rules of apportionment will apply to most new line fences built after the lawâ€™s effective date of Sept. 30. For new line fences, the landowner seeking to build the fence will have the sole burden of constructing and maintaining the fence.
There is a reimbursement process a landowner can follow for recouping construction and maintenance costs on a new line fence if an adjacent landowner uses the line fence to contain livestock within 30 years of the fenceâ€™s construction date.
Old line fences still will be subject to the old lawâ€™s rule of equal shares. Old line fences include fences in existence on the lawâ€™s effective date, fences that previously existed and fences that have been removed. A landowner must follow certain actions to establish a previously existing or removed line fence. If either of these types of fence is reconstructed, the old law of equal shares applies to the replacement fence.
Landowners will have two options for resolving line fence disputes filing an action directly in the court of common pleas or filing a complaint with the board of township trustees. A landowner dissatisfied with the decision of the township trustees may use binding arbitration rather than appealing the decision.
The court or the board of township trustees must consider certain factors in resolving line fence disputes. These include topography, streams and other waters, trees, vines and vegetation, trespasser risk, importance of marking the property line and number and type of livestock contained.
New fences built after Sept. 30 that will be used to contain livestock must be one of three types, unless the landowners agree otherwise in writing. The accepted types are:
o Woven wire of standard or high tensile with one or two strands of barbed wire at least 48 inches from the ground;
o Non-electric high tensile with at least seven strands constructed in accordance with NRCS standards;
o Or barbed wire, electric or live fence agreeable to both landowners.
Governmental neighbors must contribute 50 percent of the cost of a line fence that is used for grazing livestock.
A landowner or contractor will have rights of access to neighboring properties for the purpose of constructing or maintaining a fence.
A landowner must follow a notification procedure before removing a line fence; failure to provide notice waives the equal shares rule, and the landowner would be entirely responsible for replacing an improperly removed fence.
There are criminal penalties for obstruction or interference with a person who is lawfully engaged in building or maintaining a line fence.
Miller may be reached at 330-725-4911.