Saturday, August 15, 2009

Urban Garden Task Force Considers the Pros and Cons of Retail Produce Sales in Residential Neighborhoods

Maneuvers through obstacle course of issues in effort to reach the bounty of benefits growing in the urban garden

While the Urban Garden Task Force has a meeting scheduled every Tuesday night through September 1, Chairman Jack Wheeler, who is also the Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, told the Task Force they were not limited to only four meetings, "We can add days, too. We can do whatever we want," Wheeler said.

Wheeler also said the charge of the task force was not set in stone. He invited comment after reading the charge but, there did not appear to be any interest in changing any of the language.

Many topics were discussed, including: conditional use permits versus permitted use; facilitation of urban gardening; existing city ordinances; the application process for conditional use permits and associated fees; federal grant availability; signage and; traffic concerns.

Four new members were added to the Task Force, Earl Slavens was one of the new members. Slavens is a resident of Ash Grove who is involved in a downtown revitalization effort in his city; Gary Shafer, a representative from the Greene County Baptist Association was another new member and; Mary McCarthy and "1,000 Gardens Project" associate Aubree Taylor completed the list.

Shafer said the Greene County Baptist Association is starting a mission outreach program by providing garden plots to people who do not have available garden space.

"We are talking about city wide, we admit there are things to be considered but, we want to point out the vision that every non-profit organization that has land that's not being used should consider putting it in, to the benefit of the citizens (to be used for urban garden space)," Shafer said.

One topic continued to be introduced throughout the meeting, Galen Chadwick, founder of the "Well Fed Neighbor Alliance" and the "1,000 Gardens Project," was concerned about what ability the City Council has to legislate when it comes to agricultural use of residential property.

"The outstanding question [is], whether or not the City has legal standing to enforce, regulate, or whatever, some of the things that may be coming up in here," Chadwick said. "I want that asterisk just put into the record."

Wheeler agreed it was an important issue.

"Agriculture does have special status under federal laws and state laws and so, you know, it is a different thing than just selling something, that is a very, very important issue," Wheeler said. "I think everybody will want to see the state laws. I can't imagine Springfield would want to supercede that at all."

Yet, Wheeler reminded the group, under the present zoning laws, there is no provision for retail sales of anything in a residential district.

"You've got a little garage sale allowance that has some very severe restrictions," Wheeler said but, "basically, you can't sell anything in your yard. Now, that's the law."

According to research from the Missouri House of Representatives, "[The state] prohibition against a license or tax for sales of products from an urban garden would not prevent the amendment of the zoning ordinance to define and regulate urban gardens."

Another interesting topic was introduced by Director of Building Development Services Nick Heatherly. Heatherly noted there was nothing that mandated a conditional use permit be required.

"There's no requirement, in this case, that I'm aware of, that it has to be a conditional use. It could become a permitted use within the districts of the community, and you get to decide. It might be in all districts, [or] in some districts." Heatherly said. "With a permitted use, there is no fee."

Ray Shermer, who is a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and an Urban Garden Task Force member, reminded the group repeatedly of the importance of considering the affects commercial sales of garden produce might have on their neighbors.

"I think this is a great opportunity to put something together, as long as we can accommodate all aspects of society and make it work together," Shermer said.



Busplunge said...

Ray Shermer, who is a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and an Urban Garden Task Force member, reminded the group repeatedly of the importance of considering the affects commercial sales of garden produce might have on their neighbors.

Like a good neighbor....

Jackie Melton said...

...state statute is there??? ;)

ruell chappell said...

Man I lost my first comment and it rocked! It is illegal to sell stuff in your yard? Here? Springfield?
I guess the strict allowance for g sales also includes cars, boats, plants, dogs, carpet, furniture, clothes, mowers, the house and yard itself? Are we tAlking about my town?
Ever driven down langston? I furnised my house in that neighbohood. Cot my dogs too! Pretty convenient actually! I feel really weird like I don't really know where I live. Can someone take me home?

Jackie Melton said...

"It is illegal to sell stuff in your yard? Here? Springfield?"

Yep. One of the comments at the Task Force meeting was that, technically, kids can't even set up a koolaid stand in their yard. However, as in the case of many laws, they aren't enforced, as a general rule, unless there is a complaint made that calls attention to the violation. Now, Nick Heatherly pointed out there doesn't HAVE to be a complaint before the ordinances can be enforced but, unless there is a complaint, most of the time, petty (my word, not the City's word) ordinances like this aren't enforced.

ruell chappell said...

Oh.... This is more of the impecable logic. We make laws and don't enforce them. This is why the gov employs more people than any other industry? Lord. Why don't we worry about something important like eating and a local Economy? Do gov types ever comment here? In my estimation our new economy led by lock food needs to include a new look at gov! It's too damn big and does very little toward real world problems. I'd love to have reps from the gov comment! Quit looking for rev to fuel the machine. Run gov like a business. Rev down? Cut cost! That's what I and every business owner have to do.

Jackie Melton said...


It's been indicated, in the past, that some City employees comment here but, when they do, they do so anonymously.

There's no way to really know unless they tell us who they are.

Thank you for your comments. I'm enjoying reading them. :) -Jackie

Busplunge said...

Hey Ruell!

Remember the brouhaha several years ago over the resident who was having a permanent garage sale?

When they closed up for the night, they just covered up the tables with blue roofs and bungie cords.

They eliminated all the hard work part of a garage sale, the setting up part.

This was back in the late 1990s?
Dang, does anyone have any institutional knowledge around here anymore?

pancho said...

Please check out the August 17 2009 issue of TIME, pg 52. Food:
"Urban Animal Husbandry. Why a growing number of city folks are turning their backyards into barnyard." Some of the new municipality ordinances for urban goats, rabbits, chickens, ducks etc might be available on line.

Jim Hornaday said...

I think there could be a semi-logical reason as to why "city employee' individuals don't identify themselves as a representatives of the city in these blogs. They will get they butts kicked for not clearing an official pronouncement of the "City" with appropriate managers' approval. That means ALL the way to the top approval.