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April 8, 2024

For second time, Hartford truck rental location seeks city OK for electric fence to deter thieves

Michael Puffer | Hartford Business Journal Penske Truck Rental location, 10 Locust St., Hartford

Late last year, a fencing contractor working for the owners of a Penske Truck Leasing Co. location in Hartford sought a variance from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to allow construction of an electric fence to ward off thieves who had cost the company about $90,000.

City staff recommended against the request at the time, noting city regulations don’t allow for electrified fences. And the application was ultimately withdrawn.

Now, Penske is seeking a change in the city’s zoning regulations to allow “battery-charged” security fences in ID-1, ID-2 and CX-2 zoning districts. 

A city official says the electric fence is already installed.

Erin Howard, the city’s director of planning and zoning, said the Penske location had the fence installed even before its variance application to the Zoning Board of Appeals late last year.

Howard said the request for the fence originally moved through an administrative, staff-level approval system before it was realized the fence could shock trespassers.
“It was presented like a security alarm system,” Howard said. “And so, unfortunately, the property owner went forward with the installation. And it got caught through local building and zoning once the system had already been installed.”

Howard said a zoning violation citation is pending and staff recommended the company seek a change in the regulation before the city requires removal of the “massive” fencing installation.

The city’s “goal is to bring things into compliance,” Howard said. “So, we told them: ‘Look, we understand the situation. So, why don’t you try to see if you can get this approved through zoning first. …This is them trying to rectify that issue and move forward.’”

The proposed text amendment would require a non-electrified fence in front of a battery-powered electric fence.

Howard said there is demand for electric security fencing in the city. She said she believes one other location has also installed electric fencing, and two other sites have contracted to have it installed.

Attempts to reach Penske management at the Locust Street location by telephone and email were unsuccessful. A staff member at the Penske location Monday morning said the company would have no comment.

The Locust Street location suffered 13 instances of theft or vandalism prior to the installation of the battery-charged electric fence, according to a memo included with the application, authored by Glastonbury law firm Alter & Pearson.  There have been none since, according to the memo.

“The proposed text amendment is tailored to apply to lots that are not used exclusively for residential purposes and promotes the best interest of the entire community by deterring crime and damage to property,” reads a portion of the memo.

A public hearing for the zoning text amendment change is scheduled to begin at Tuesday night’s meeting of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

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