Front-yard Veggies Cause Stir In Oak Park

OAK PARK (AP) – A suburban Detroit woman’s front-yard vegetable garden has caused a stir after she was cited for violating city rules about landscaping.

Julie Bass was cited last month for violating an ordinance in Oak Park that requires grass, ground cover, shrubbery or other “suitable live plant material.” She’s fighting the citation, and a hearing is scheduled for July 26, The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press reported.

The misdemeanor carries the possibility of 93 days in jail, but Oak Park Mayor Gerry Naftaly said Bass won’t be put behind bars. He said he and the City Council could reconsider the ordinance if residents and local organizations say the city should allow such gardens.

Bass and her husband, Jason Bass, put in raised garden beds after digging up the yard to replace a sewer pipe. She said she called the city planning department to check whether a vegetable garden would be OK, and said she thought it would be allowed as decorative.

“Why do something that’s decorative and useless,” she said, referring to flowers. “Vegetables are good for kids, and growing food is a real process.”
Part of the idea, she said, was to educate her children about food and where it comes from.

City officials, who have fielded phone calls, threats and emails about the citation, said they are being misunderstood.

“I don’t know of any community where I have seen a full garden in the front yard,” said Kevin Rulkowski, of the city’s planning department. “In planning and zoning, we try and put things in appropriate places.”

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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