New Rules Could Help Community Gardens

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The city planning department wants to make it easier for community gardens to get set up on private property or city-owned land.

Current zoning regulations say gardens are only allowed as an accessory use, meaning gardeners can set up a backyard plot, but can’t use an entire property for a garden. Community gardens are not allowed on city land.

Proposed regulations would allow community gardens as a “primary use” in higher-density residential and mixed-use districts. People in lower-density residential areas — R1 through R6 in Raleigh zoning speak — would have to apply for special use permits to use an entire lot for a garden.

Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver said at the Raleigh City Council meeting Tuesday that city staff will develop a new set of rules allowing nonprofit organizations to set up community gardens or urban farms on city property. Read the full report delivered to city councilors below.

Silver said the city has a “surplus of undeveloped property.” He did not have a specific number of properties, but the list is 200 pages long.

Urban agriculture and community gardens, Silver said, are “one of the biggest phenomenon to address local food systems.”

Silver said the interest in growing food among Raleigh residents is “only growing.”

The issue of community gardens came up two years ago while the city was writing its 2030 Comprehensive Plan, which aims to guide development in Raleigh for decades to come. The issue came up again last year when a number of organizations, including the Interfaith Food Shuttle, asked the council to change the rules so they could set up gardens on unoccupied property.

Councilors agreed to put the potential new rules on the agenda for a July 7 public hearing.


New historic landmarks

Raleigh could have two new historic landmarks. The owners of the Raleigh Furniture Building at 119 East Hargett St. and the Paul and Elsie Stahl House at 3017 Granville Drive asked to have the buildings designated as landmarks.

The applications will go to the state Department of Cultural Resources for analysis and will have public hearings on June 7.


CAC boundaries follow-up

Councilors sent the proposed Citizens Advisory Councils boundary changes to a public hearing. People can share their thoughts on the boundaries proposal on April 19 at the evening public hearing session.

Read more about the boundary change ideas.

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