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RE: zoning/permits for community gardens

  • Subject: RE: [cg] zoning/permits for community gardens
  • From: "Jack Hale" <jackh@knoxparks.org>
  • Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 09:47:01 -0400
  • Importance: Normal

Hi folks-

I'm no expert on zoning, but we have had our brushes with PD&Z (our planning, development, and zoning board).  They sure do have a lot to say about what goes on in town, and by charter, they are insulated from the general political process to a substantial degree.  For us, the big issue has not been so much what a particular piece of property is zoned, but what uses are permitted within that zone.  So, for instance, you might want to see whether gardening is permitted in a residential zone.  Chances are that "community gardening" per se is not a permitted use anywhere.  Very few communities have written it into their zoning code or their ordinances.  Dealing with zoning folks, it's best to try to speak their language, so you might try to get away with just saying you will be gardening there.  In our case, we wanted to build a greenhouse in a commercial zone.  Well "greenhouse" is a permitted use only in residential zones in Hartford.  We could have said we were developing a "garden center" here.  That is permitted, but it requires retail sales, which we weren't prepared to do.  Finally, a friendly guy at city hall told us we should just say we are building a "temporary structure," a permitted use.  Worked like a charm.  Another issue we expect to run into some day relates to composting.  It is not a permitted use anywhere.  However, in our ordinances, a prohibited activity is "piling refuse."  Somebody could complain about composting as piling refuse, and the zoning folks would be required to cite the "offender."  Someday when we don't have anything else to do, we will have to try to change that.

Good luck in your efforts.



Jack N. Hale

Executive Director

Knox Parks Foundation

75 Laurel Street

Hartford, CT 06106





-----Original Message-----
From: community_garden-admin@mallorn.com [mailto:community_garden-admin@mallorn.com]On Behalf Of Adam36055@aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 9:53 PM
To: markstanley@comcast.net; community_garden@mallorn.com
Subject: Re: [cg] zoning/permits for community gardens


Dear Mr. Stanley,

Zoning is a political way to balance the various forms of land use in an area.  Because it is legal, it is based of precedent and the wheels go very slowly, because a mistake made in zoning can make alot of people unhappy for a long time.  And when you sit on a zoning committee, you really don't want to make people unhappy for a long time.

The whole Israel /Palestine conflict  has been described as an exacerbated real estate/land use problem.  So understand why your guys don't want to think out of the box.

Please go to the ACGA website, and read all about community gardens.  American Community Gardening Association .  There will be enough examples of how these are run to show your zoning board.  Explain that it will be a kind of public space as well as a way for neighbhorhood volunteers to get together to raise food for the hungry in your area.  Talk to your local food pantries, soup kitchen folks, as well as senior citizen organizations that want access to fresh veggies and maybe even flowers during the season.

Remember - zoning is political.  Everybody in your church is represented by several local elected representatives. With letters, envelopes and stamps, you can let them know how important having this community garden is - and plan to make about three mailings over the course of a month. Tell them that it will 1) beautify the neighborhood, 2) feed the hungry, 3) appreciate their help, and would appreciate being copied on the letter they will be writing to the zoning board/permitting agency to show to other church members/registered voters. 4) Let you know the name of their "scheduler, " so you can invite them to the grand opening of the garden, and to arrange for photo opportunities.

It is a lot of work to get folks to think outside of the box. However, when you talk nice, and twist arms ( in a nice kind of way, of course) legislators and officials generally get to understand what is in their best interest.

Adam Honigman
Clinton Community Garden 

Subj: [cg] zoning/permits for community gardens
Date: 7/20/04 5:07:16 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: markstanley@comcast.net
To: community_garden@mallorn.com
Sent from the Internet

I live in a small town in the foothills of Northern California.  Our church wants to create a community garden on property that is zoned residential.  Does anyone have any information on zoning practices for community gardens?  Our planning department says it has to be on property zoned agricultural. (There is a great deal of agricultural land in the county.)


Thank you,

Robin Stanley

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