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
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.
in your efforts.
firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]On Behalf Of Adam36055@aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 9:53
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.
Clinton Community Garden
Subj: [cg] zoning/permits
for community gardens
Date: 7/20/04 5:07:16 PM Eastern Daylight Time
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.)