The fence is gone, but a gate and the controversy remain.

Havre de Grace's Joe Fiocchi ended his "Save the Fence" effort on and around Commerce Street, taking down the much-contested barrier Wednesday morning.

What he did not remove, however, was a gate that is also in the city right-of-way and which Fiocchi said the city did not request him to remove.

It was unclear as of Thursday morning what comes next now that the gate is still standing.


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The fight over the Fiocchi fence being in a city right-of-way dominated the last several city council meetings, taking a new turn when the council allowed a decorative brick wall to remain in a city right-of at a home on Market Street, citing miscommunication with the homeowner.

Fiocchi said he does not know if he will pursue any further action, but he remains convinced he was targeted because of an ongoing dispute with his neighbor, Mary Martin, who is Councilman Bill Martin's sister.

"This, to me, is not a matter of a 24-foot fence. This, to me, is a matter of favoritism and how things are done in Havre de Grace," he said. "I am not sure what I am going to do with it."

Fiocchi does think the controversy made residents more aware of the discrepancies and inconsistencies at City Hall.

"I think this has opened people's eyes to what is going on," he said. "I certainly did not want to make a spectacle out of it. I am not going to be part of shaming the town."

The Rimels, on Market Street, recently had their brick wall approved via a simple phone call to the city, which council members insist will not be allowed to happen in the future.

"That wall is much longer than mine and there was much more work to do there," Fiocchi noted.

The city council said Fiocchi asked for forgiveness on a fence that he knowingly built in a city right-of-way without permission, while Fiocchi said he was given a building permit and no one ever warned him about the right-of-way.

Earlier council debate

At the previous city council meeting on July 2, residents and council members spent an hour debating the fence issue, which the council had already voted down previously in Mayor Wayne Dougherty's absence. Dougherty was back for the July 2 session.

During the citizens comment portion of the council meeting, long-time City Councilman Fred Cullum, who lost his run for re-election to the council in May, questioned the decision, suggesting it was unfair.

Cullum said he was 'a little dismayed, especially after tonight, when there was the same issue on the agenda and it was passed unanimously."

Cullum referred to the approval of a license agreement for a brick landscaping wall on Market Street that was in a city right-of-way.

He said he agreed with Bill Martin recusing himself from the issue, but called the vote "a fairness issue."

The city has been issuing such licenses as a means to be able to recover property, he said.

"If someone owns something for a period of time, they could claim that they own it," he explained.