Skip to comments.Pure manure: City uproots FL couple’s 17-year-old garden
Posted on 11/21/2013 6:13:37 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Few things in life are as benign as a home vegetable garden.
But for the residents of Miami Shores, Fla., growing veggies can land you a fine the type you eventually cant afford.
Thats what happened to Hermine Ricketts and her husband, Tom Carroll. For the past 17 years theyve grown a garden in the front yard of their modest South Florida home. The backyard, they say, doesnt get enough sunlight.
But in May, the city put the couples garden, and any others like it, in their legal crosshairs.
A new zoning ordinance designed to protect the distinctive character of the Miami Shores Village, was enacted and specifically prohibited vegetables not fruit, trees or even plastic flamingos from appearing in front yards.
Shortly after, the couple received a visit from their local code enforcement officer. They were given a choice: Uproot the garden or pay a $50 per day fine to keep it.
After twice appearing before the Miami Shores Code Enforcement Board and being denied an exemption, the couple decided to dig up the garden rather than fork over $1,500 a month to the city.
Now theyre taking their case to court.
In an effort to reinstate the couples right to grow a few vegetables on their own property, the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian leaning legal aid group, filed a lawsuit Tuesday on their behalf.
Were not suing for money, IJ attorney Ari Bargil told Florida Watchdog. Were asking the court to rule that this law is unconstitutional so Hermine and Tom can plant their garden again.
According to Bargil, the ordinance infringes on the couples basic right to privacy a right the Florida Constitution recognizes more broadly than the U.S. Constitution.
Miami Shores will have to prove that its ban promotes a compelling governmental interest and is narrowly tailored to advance that interest, wrote Bargil in a litigation backgrounder.
For its part, the city has yet to explain any interest beyond the language of the law itself.
Similar bans have taken root in other parts of the country. Ron Finely of South Los Angeles and Adam Guerro of Memphis were found in violation of city gardening ordinances, though they eventually prevailed.
But Denise Morrison of Tulsa, Okla., wasnt so lucky. Her edible garden was largely destroyed by local authorities while she waited for her day in court. Julie Bass of Oak Park, Mich,. faced 90-days in jail for her home-grown veggies. The charges were eventually dropped.
Such rules are usually rooted in maintaining the aesthetic value of a neighborhood. Other residents have every right to complain though that was not the case in Miami Shores or local authorities can make a determination themselves.
The problem, however, is when a homeowner reasonably disagrees with city officials on what is considered visually suitable. Throw in the productive use of growing food on ones own property, and such restrictions can come across as arbitrary and subjective.
While the Florida case may seem to be small-potatoes to those that dont grow and eat their own food, Bargil offers a simple warning.
If the government can tell you what you can and cant do in your front yard, what else can they decide is off-limits?
Contact William Patrick at email@example.com or follow Florida Watchdog on Twitter at @watchdogfla Like Watchdog.org?
OUTLAWS: A Miami Shores couple was forced to uproot their garden of 17 years to comply with a new city ordinance.
Nice looking garden.
I wonder what the town’s policy is on ornamental cabbages.
They can consider themselves lucky they didn’t have a dog.
That would have called for a SWAT team and a poochie execution.
“I wonder what the towns policy is on ornamental cabbages.”
That said,I hate the things. Ugly. :-)
After 17 years I would say that their garden IS “the distinctive character of the Miami Shores Village.”
It is beautiful, indeed. I figured they had a plain-vanilla 20x40 foot bed of row crops which wouldn’t be terribly attractive. Lots of edible plants are used as color and form accents in gardens. Will the city require those to be yanked out city-wide?
I fail to see how anyone could possibly object to this panorama on “aesthetic grounds”. This isn’t a garden...it is properly called “edible landscaping”, which is the use of species that yield edible produce while simultaneously being visually attractive.
“...O’er the Land of the...what?...”
Or fruit trees.
Me too. But ornamental peppers?
I have no doubt they would hire them.
Indeed, or nut trees.
Ha ha—and give them full pensions after a few years.
Insanity in the liberal hell hole of Tallahassee.
I remember reading about this some months back and the garden looked nothing like the pic you posted. It was a small front yard loaded with veggies. I hope they get their garden back. The city is way out of line here.
The root of all freedom is property rights.
Perhaps a different case? There have been several of these in the news over the past couple of years in different communities.
There have been several books published on edible landscapes. When I was a child, vegetables in the front yards were common and usually indicated that an Italian, Armenian, or Greek immigrant lived in that house. And those folks were always generous to their neighbors with their produce. Nobody complained on “aesthetics”.
The main problem with growing veggies in the front yard is that they need constant tending, or they can get messy. Growing veggies in the front yard is no “run the mower once a week and be done” proposition.
.....in Austin this would fall under the jurisdiction of the ENVIRONMENTAL ENFORCEMENT DIVISION which effectively is the city’s own enviro police force. They have intentionally “criminalized” such matters which gives them sharp and distinct “procedural” legal advantage over a defendant. One big advantage, among several, is the defendant has to show up at EVERY courtroom proceeding or get arrested.
I fought the City of Austin through 3 jury trials over a period of 2-3 years. They lost all 3. Now, imagine that! Liberal Austin. Liberal citizen jurors. Mean old greedy developer ME. City still lost all 3 times. So, the city’s effort against me even offended its own liberal citizens.
My CRIMINAL violation? I moved a tenant in a shopping center I just built without 1 last letter from the enviros that EVERYTHING was ok. Such a letter was withheld for months and months and the poor tenant needed to get open and cash flow rolling in or go broke. Simple.
What, among other things, turned the jurors against the city was that the City owned electricity provider historically withholds electricity until EVERYTHING is clear. They cleared it and the Marxist enviros simply would not issue their letter.
Cost to me for the 3 trials in legal fees alone was approximately $25,000. Trips to courthouse over the 2-3 years were 10-20.
Cities are out of control with liberal Marxist regulators. I should have sued for abuse of process but was tired of it all. Laughably too, I had good attorneys each time. They had the same uncaring, sleepy staff lawyer. By the way, if I had lost, the fines were HUGE.......in the six figures!