Thursday, July 09, 2009

Still No Clear Answer Regarding Which "Urban Gardeners" would be Affected by Proposed Ordinance Text Amendments

Answers regarding who would be affected by licensing and conditional use permits under proposed "urban garden" ordinance text amendments remain unclear.

On Tuesday, July 7, still uncertain of my understanding about which "urban gardeners" would be affected and which would not, I wrote in a follow up email to Mr. Neal:

"...I am still not clear on certain points. I have read the report in the News-Leader and have been privy to comments made by the Public Information Office in the past regarding how these changes will not affect residential gardens within the City, however, the definition proposed for an urban garden seems to encompass those who may be doing nothing but growing daisies to place in a vase on their kitchen tables, and in item 4 of the staff comments, re-pasted below for convenience sake (but not included in this JackeHammer posting), I do not feel my question has been answered."

I received an answer Wednesday morning regarding that question. Mr. Neal indicated that commercial use is the primary factor in determining the "urban gardeners" who would be affected.

"Regarding the language, the amendment will not change accessory gardens in residential districts or any legally existing related businesses," Neal wrote. "The commercial use is the difference and distinguishing factor proposed."

I had considered the "principal use" of the property would factor in when I wrote in a previous entry:

"Millsap wants to purchase a lot within a residentially zoned district, adjacent to her home, for the principal use of farming crops. Not for an accessory use, with the principal use being that of housing. My understanding, if my "Sherlock Holmes" hat is sitting at the right angle, because, it is never clearly explained in the proposed text amendment, or even in Neal's email response, is that Millsap's principal use as a commercial garden, where no house sits, would require a conditional use permit, while my garden, as an accessory to the principal use of the lot, my residence, would not require a conditional use permit, even if I am selling produce from my house."

And yet, if the "principal use" of the property does not factor in and the determining factor is solely whether there is a "commercial use" of the property, there still remains, in my mind, a nagging question about whether a resident who has an accessory garden, who grows excess produce to sell "commercially" at the Farmer's Market, would be affected by the new language proposed to amend the applicable ordinance. So, I sent a link to my previous entry, with the above excerpt included and asked Mr. Neal if my understanding of the issue was correct and if he had any comments regarding my entry.

I have received no response from Mr. Neal since inquiring further about the issue, so, I still wonder if I had "my Sherlock Holme's hat adjusted at the right angle," when I deduced that a home gardener who grew excess crops for the purpose of commercial sales at a Farmer's Market would be affected by the proposed ordinance.

I felt these were details and distinctions of which the public should be aware. It seems to me, for the public to be adequately prepared to share their thoughts and concerns regarding this proposed amendment, the public should have no questions regarding the amendment's content.

Again, the public hearing before the Planning & Zoning Commission is tonight, Thursday July 9 at the Historic City Hall in Council Chambers on the 3rd floor, at 7 p.m.


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