Benson enforcing ordinance governing backyard pools

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Last year five residents of Benson bought and installed above ground pools in their backyards thinking they would provide a place to cool off on a hot summer’s day and be great for kids to play in as well.

There was just one problem with all the pools – their installation didn’t comply with the Benson city ordinance. If the residents couldn’t comply with the law, they had to remove the pools.

Now, two more cases of people putting in backyard above ground pools have come up this spring. And, again, those installing them were not aware that the city had a law governing their use, City Manager Rob Wolfington told the Benson City Council at its meeting Monday night.

A three-year-old child died Sunday after having fallen into a pool west of the Twin Cities last week. Two other children have been found unconscious in pools in the past month. All three incidents illustrate just how important the city’s ordinance on backyard pools is to the health and safety of children in the community. In less than a month in Minnesota, three young children wandered into areas with unsecured pools and nearly drowned. All were unconscious when discovered in the pools.

Wolfington told the council that he would be running an advertisement in the Swift County Monitor-News for the next three weeks pointing out the requirements of the city’s swimming pool ordinance. The information will also go on the Monitor-News website and on social media.

Benson’s pool ordinance states that purpose of the law is “to establish regulations and procedures for the construction and maintenance of swimming pools within the city with the goal of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the city.”

A swimming pool is defined as “any structure intended for swimming or recreational bathing that contains water over 24 inches deep. This includes in-ground, above-ground, and on-ground swimming pools, hot tubs, portable and non-portable spas, and fixed in wading pools.”

The ordinance states, “No swimming pool may be constructed beneath overhead utility lines of any type or above underground utility lines of any type. One can’t be placed “within 10 feet of any side or rear lot line.” No swimming pool may be constructed within 20 feet of any on-site sewer system facility.

A swimming pool is required to be fully enclosed with a fence, which may be temporary and portable, not less than four feet in height, before the pool is put in place or constructed.

Before a swimming pool is completed, it must be enclosed with “a permanent wall or fence of the non-climbing type so as to be impenetrable by toddlers, affording no external handholds or footholds, and a minimum of four feet in height. All such enclosures shall be equipped with a self-locking and self-closing gate. The locking device shall be located within 12 inches of the top of the fence.”

The law also states that:

  • The opening between the bottom of the fence or gate and the ground or other surface shall be no more than three inches.
  • A building permit from the city is required to install a swimming pool.
  • No hot tub, portable or non-portable spa, or fixed in wading pool shall be constructed or maintained that is not enclosed with a fence or wall as described here in or a latchable cover. The cover shall be construed of a material that cannot be penetrated by toddlers.
  • No outdoor swimming pool lighting may be maintained which is permitted to spill or shine upon properties adjacent thereto which are not under the same ownership.
     

 

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