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Thread: Community gardens

  1. #1

    Community gardens

    Hello everyone. In my fair town, we have a non-profit youth summer camp that owns a large property at the edge of the City limits. Only one of our streets really fronts their property, and there are single-family homes directly across the street from the camp property, though the camp itself is mostly out of sight save for a couple of its larger buildings closer to the entrance to it.

    Anyway, said camp would like to organize a community garden on their property along a relatively large portion that fronts the street with homes on the other side of it. Large as in you could fit four roughly 2,000 sq. foot homes on the proposed garden site. Of course, we've now got residents that will be living across the street from the garden voicing complaints (mostly that it'll be an eyesore). The camp wants to charge a fee for usage of the garden and one must sign up to be a "member" and so on. They plan to provide a tool shed as well as a wire fence to keep deer out and a few other things.

    The problem is, the property that the camp is on is zoned recreational, and the zoning ordinance specifically allows "youth camps" within recreational zoning districts. However, nothing in our zoning or any other ordinances says anything about community gardens. We do have procedures for conditional use permits, which I think this would fall under.

    Basically, I was wondering if any of you out there, particularly those in Texas, are aware of any cities that regulate community gardens? Am I wrong in thinking that this type of land use, though it's in a recreational district, would require a conditional use permit, since it's not mentioned at all in any ordinances and is not a use as of/by right (i.e. it's not expressly permitted like the youth camp is)

    Sorry this is so long! It's just kind of an odd/new situation for me. Any responses are appreciated. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian sequoianelf's avatar
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    We have community gardens here that have been established over the past 5 years and they did not obtain any conditional use permits, nor do we have that listed as a specific use type. If the property was an undeveloped property, I could see the issue, but why can't the community garden just be an associated use with the permitted camp? Here there is a community garden at the school that is associated with the school.

  3. #3
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I agree, a community garden certainly sounds like an accessory use in this case. I wouldn't take it as a given there will be complaints about the garden either

  4. #4
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by sequoianelf View post
    .....but why can't the community garden just be an associated use with the permitted camp? Here there is a community garden at the school that is associated with the school.
    My opinion is that it would be accessory only if the participants of the camp were participating in the garden and to open it up to outside community involvement would seem to be a different use than the youth camp. For what that's worth

    Quote Originally posted by Civilivy
    Am I wrong in thinking that this type of land use, though it's in a recreational district, would require a conditional use permit, since it's not mentioned at all in any ordinances and is not a use as of/by right (i.e. it's not expressly permitted like the youth camp is)
    Is there anything else in that zoning district (or any others) that a community garden is similar to? Absent that, does your conditional land use's provide for "unclassified uses" or something similar? As I said above, I wouldn't really consider the garden accessory if operated in the manner in which you stated in your post, and so I think a conditional use permit (if provided for in zoning) would be most appropriate.

    Here, someone can lease (usually for $1) a city owned lot for community gardens. There is a contract with the City that addresses maintenance, taxes, permanent structures, water, parking, etc. Anyone wanting a garden on private property would be required to get a special use permit. I know it seems that generally a garden wouldn't be considered a nuisance for a neighbhorhood, but it does all depend on a lot of things - size, traffic, maintenance, structures, parking, etc. At this time, we haven't had enough interest (none on private property) to gauge what type of regulations should be in place for the issue, so for now this is working.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    My opinion is that it would be accessory only if the participants of the camp were participating in the garden and to open it up to outside community involvement would seem to be a different use than the youth camp. For what that's worth
    ... Anyone wanting a garden on private property would be required to get a special use permit. I know it seems that generally a garden wouldn't be considered a nuisance for a neighbhorhood, but it does all depend on a lot of things - size, traffic, maintenance, structures, parking, etc. At this time, we haven't had enough interest (none on private property) to gauge what type of regulations should be in place for the issue, so for now this is working.
    Hereabouts, because usually the garden has a tap that needs a permit, the special use permit often comes into play. The additional cars may cause some consternation to immediate neighbors, so care needs to be taken to assure any grumpy-pants that everything is in order. In general they are a benefit to the neighborhood, so there shouldn't be too much angst except for the extra cars.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    My opinion is that it would be accessory only if the participants of the camp were participating in the garden and to open it up to outside community involvement would seem to be a different use than the youth camp. For what that's worth



    Is there anything else in that zoning district (or any others) that a community garden is similar to? Absent that, does your conditional land use's provide for "unclassified uses" or something similar? As I said above, I wouldn't really consider the garden accessory if operated in the manner in which you stated in your post, and so I think a conditional use permit (if provided for in zoning) would be most appropriate.

    Here, someone can lease (usually for $1) a city owned lot for community gardens. There is a contract with the City that addresses maintenance, taxes, permanent structures, water, parking, etc. Anyone wanting a garden on private property would be required to get a special use permit. I know it seems that generally a garden wouldn't be considered a nuisance for a neighbhorhood, but it does all depend on a lot of things - size, traffic, maintenance, structures, parking, etc. At this time, we haven't had enough interest (none on private property) to gauge what type of regulations should be in place for the issue, so for now this is working.
    No, there is not any other similar uses allowed in a recreational district. The only uses that are explicitly stated as permitted are a golf course, tennis court/swimming pool, and a youth camp. After "youth camp" the next statement is that other "similar recreational use facilities may be approved by the City Council granting a Conditional Use Permit"...that statement tells me that any similar recreational land use (e.g. community garden) would only be permitted as a Conditional Use. The district also permits "incidental accessory structures and uses incidental to the foregoing uses"...that is, golf courses, youth camps, and similar uses approved via a CUP.

    I agree with you that it being a community garden for residents of the city year-round, and not just, say, campers in the summer, puts it outside the realm of an accessory use. If it were intended to be made just for campers, I could see it simply being under the heading of a "youth camp" use. But in this case it seems like we're going to end up with one piece of private property zoned recreational that will feature two distinct types of recreational land use, only one of which is specifically a permitted use. I mean, I think this would fit under the CUP proccess:

    "A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT (CUP) allows a city or county to consider special uses which may be essential or desirable to a particular community, but which are not allowed as a matter of right within a zoning district, through a public hearing process." (http://ceres.ca.gov/planning/cup/condition.htm)

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mique28's avatar
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    community gardens permitted

    My municipality (in WI) has "community gardens" listed as permitted uses in certain zoning districts. The gardens are defined as follows in our code:

    --Community garden means land commonly shared and maintained by multiple users and appropriate for and limited to the tillage of soil and the production, cultivation and harvesting of any agricultural, floricultural or horticultural commodity but not including retail sales of such items, and the keeping of poultry or livestock
    If your community wants to allow such gardens (which we have found to be valuable assets) listing them in your code as permitted is wise.

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