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Council to west Ceres resident: 'Tear down this wall!'
Within six months Kevin Oxford must tear down his $6,000 masonry wall that runs on the side of his Blaker Road house. The Ceres City Council rejected his plea Nov. 9 for a variance and ordered that the wall be removed since it was built within the required setback.

Oxford remodeled the house at the corner of Blaker Road and Cancimilla Court last year. The wall was shown on plans approved by the city but when Oxford placed the wall he failed to take into account that the proper setback. Oxford also measured from the curb, not the back of the sidewalk. The city required a 20-foot setback but the wall is set back only 11 feet.

Someone complained about the wall and Oxford was advised the wall is not appropriate. He has been pleading with the city since April to allow the fence to remain. The Ceres Planning Commission could not make the required four findings to justify a variance. "It's not a unique circumstance," opined Planner Tom Westbrook. Oxford then appealed to the Ceres City Council last week and found words of sympathy but no leniency.

Oxford insisted that the city is discriminating against him, saying others have fences in the area that are within the setback.

"The city didn't discriminate against you," said Mayor Anthony Cannella, "you put your wall in the wrong spot."

Ceres resident Len Shepherd tried to shame the council into backing off of Oxford and saying the city had no business telling Oxford what to do on his property.

Cannella, however, reminded Shepherd that standards and laws are in place for orderly growth and protect others' rights. "We have rules and regulations for a reason," said Cannella. He told Oxford: "We have setbacks already identified and it's horrible that your designer didn't know that, and you didn't know that and I feel bad about it. You know, to be honest I'd like to go out and push my fence to the street. I'd love to have more of a yard ... but we do have rules and regulations that protect other people as well."

Councilmen Bret Durossette and Chris Vierra said that the wall could present problems for anyone backing out of the driveway to the south of Oxford's property.

"I can definitely feel for Mr. Oxford ... but I have some concerns," said Vierra. "My biggest concern is the Armageddon that may come from where everybody can just go ahead and put a wall up and do whatever they want."

Durossette said Oxford's wall was a "beautiful wall ... but at the same time I wouldn't particularly care for something like that in my neighborhood."

Councilman Ken Lane said the city had the right to shave off properties along Blaker Road that made Oxford's house closer to the road. "I do feel for you," Lane told Oxford. "I, too, seen the driveway and right there stuck in my head is a safety issue."