UDO Day 19: Legalizing community gardens

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Up until a month ago, community gardens as most people think of them — taking up a vacant lot — were not allowed under the zoning code. Gardens were not allowed as a “primary use,” meaning the main use for a property. Gardens had to be on a property where a house or business or civic building or whatever was the main use of that property.

The city council approved a new set of rules April 5 to allow gardens as a primary use. Those new rules are now part of the draft Unified Development Ordinance.

Community gardens would be allowed in all mixed-use districts. For residential districts, would-be gardeners would have to apply to the board of adjustment for a special use permit.

A couple points stick out. Community gardens may be collective efforts or be divided up into plots. Gardeners can sell the fruits of their labor on the property with a special use permit.

Gardeners can raise one chicken for every 1,000 square feet of the property. Gardens can have up to two bee hives; lot size doesn’t matter. The one catch with chickens and bees is that they must be 25 feet away from any adjacent property line.

“No roosters are allowed.”

Animal raising would not be permitted in gardens in residential districts, but it’s a little unclear as to whether bees are considered animals.

Here’s the full text of section 6.6.1-B:

B. Community Garden

1. Defined

Areas of land managed and maintained by a group of individuals to grow and harvest food crops and non-food ornamental crops, for personal or group use, consumption, or donation. They may be divided into separate plots for cultivation by one or more individuals or may be farmed collectively by members of the group and may include common areas maintained and used by group.

2. Use Standards

a. A community garden shall be primarily used for growing and harvesting food crops and ornamental crops, for consumption or donation or for sale off-site.

b. On-site sales may be permitted upon approval of a special use permit, following the procedures set forth in Sec. 11.2.10. Sales shall be restricted to horticultural and agricultural products produced on the premises.

c. Detached accessory structures such as storage or utility buildings, gazebos, trellises, or accessory greenhouse structures are permitted, subject to compliance with the requirements of the zoning district.

d. If security fencing is installed, such fencing shall be of an open design.

e. If lighting is installed, only motion-detecting fixtures shall be permitted. All-night lighting is prohibited.

f. Community gardens shall be managed and maintained in compliance with all applicable standards of this code and the City Code, including but not limited to those pertaining to: nuisance abatement, stormwater, site accessibility, signage, soil erosion and sedimentation control and any required tree conservation and landscaping.

g. Raising of animals is not permitted in a Residential District. When allowed the raising of animals is subject to the following conditions:

i. The community garden must be in active use for the growing and harvesting of crops.

ii. Hoofed animals are prohibited.

iii. Chickens are permitted at rate of one chicken per 1,000 square feet of lot area not to exceed 10 chickens on any single lot. No roosters are allowed.

iv. A maximum of two bee hives are permitted.

v. Any coop, hutch, hive, or other structure for housing animals shall be located at least 25 feet from any property line.


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