Thursday, October 08, 2009

P & Z to Hear from Public on Urban Garden Task Force Recommendations Tonight

As written about in this previous "JackeHammer" (JH) entry, the Planning and Zoning Commission (P & Z) will take public comment tonight as they review and discuss the Urban Garden Task Force's recommendation.

Here's a recap of some of the details from the earlier JH posting. You might find the information useful if you want to address the Commission tonight:

The Urban Garden Task Force voted unanimously to recommend a City staff prepared, proposed text amendment to the Planning and Zoning Commission (P & Z) for consideration when the task force met on September 22. The task force's approval came with one section change, reflected at Section 5-3002 (E) of the recommended amendment.

Rather than restricting hours of operation from sunrise to sunset as the draft had specified, the proposed section was changed to allow operation from 1/2 hour before sunrise until 1/2 hour after sunset. One other change to the same section allows gasoline powered equipment to operate on the same schedule. The draft text amendment originally allowed mechanical, gas and electric equipment use only from the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Under the proposed amendment, "Personal Gardens" and "Community Gardens" will be allowed in any and all zoning districts in Springfield. Neither will be allowed to sell produce to the public on-site.

Other than the prohibition of on-site sales, personal gardens can be cited under the nuisance ordinance of City Code for the same things for which all City residents may be cited, such as odor, noise, high weeds, grass, etc. There were no additional restrictions applied to personal gardens.

Community gardens face a few more restrictions. The owner or proprietor of the property will be required to file an application with the Director of Building Development Services but, not without reason, considering they have more potential to be a source of complaint to the neighborhoods where they will be tended than personal gardens tended by a single property owner or family. There will also be a no to minimal-cost permit required.

The proposed restrictions on Community gardens apply to: Accessory structures (not to exceed 40 percent of the lot area); placement of accessory structures; hours of operation; signage; storm water, sediment and erosion; odor emissions; high weeds and grass; compost and material storage areas; lighting; noise; vision obstruction; and parking (if cultivated area exceeds 1 acre in size).Commercial gardens and Farmers' Markets were also defined and regulated under the proposed amendment....

The P & Zoning public hearing will be held on Thursday, October 8, at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

If the P & Z Commission approves the Urban Garden Task Force's report and attached amendment, the Commission anticipates the City Council will hear first reading of a bill seeking their approval of the text amendment, and take public comment at their October 26 meeting. That would mean the Council would likely vote on the ordinance on November 9, after second reading of the bill.


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