Oak Park Mom Battles Zoning Over Veggie Garden
Every day I read about some new government regulation that leaves me shaking my head. As a home garden enthusiast, this recent story caught my attention and makes me really wonder about the sanity of the people who write and enforce these regulations.
In today’s difficult economy, resources and finances are stretched to the limit. People are looking for ways to be more frugal and are getting back to basics. Governments are cutting back so I would think they would spend their citizens tax dollars more wisely? This is a true story playing out now in Oak Park, Michigan.
Julie Bass just wanted to have a nice little raised bed garden in her front yard for some organic vegetables.
Why her front yard you ask? Long story, short. Seems like a big tree’s roots, planted by the city in front of her property, played havoc with her sewer lines and caused them to burst. After digging up the lines, removing the tree and getting her flooded basement cleaned up, the Bass family was left with a bare front yard and a huge pile of dirt. What to do? Why not plant a few nice raised bed gardens?
As a responsible and respectable citizen, Julie contacts the Oak Park City Planner to make sure she is not violating any laws. She contacts them not once, but three times just to clarify she is in good standing with the local regulators.
The zoning ordinance states:
“all unpaved portions of the site shall be planted with grass ground cover, shrubbery, or other suitable live plant material.”
The key phrase here is “other suitable live plant material”. The vegetables are live, they are plants and they are material. Julie felt like she was good to go. She had attractive raised garden boxes built and installed, plants in place, mulch around the boxes and even added a nice swing.
Shortly after everything is complete, along comes the city code enforcer. Julie is told to move her raised bed gardens to the backyard or face a summons to appear in court. Yes indeed, Oak Park is waging war on vegetables. A pretrial hearing is slated for later this month.
For some reason, the government wants to control every aspect of our daily lives. They tell us it is either for our own safety or our protection. It’s as if they don’t think we can make any decisions for ourselves. From what we eat, what we drive, how we live, our health care and now where we put a raised bed vegetable container garden on our own property.
Julie has started documenting her garden war at Oak Park Hates Veggies . She shares her journey as well as several good recipes and other interesting stories. She has even started a Facebook page covering her battle with Oak Park. As one gardener to another, head over to her site and give her some encouragement. I’m sure she will appreciate your support.
Filed under: Container Gardening