City Forces Homeowner To Rip Up His Own Yard And Pay For $8,500 Sidewalk

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City Forces Homeowner To Rip Up His Own Yard And Pay For $8,500 Sidewalk

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Homeowners apparently will be forced to pay the city to rip up their front yards and install sidewalks under a proposal in Grand Forks, N.D.

“Sidewalks aren’t protestable,” City Council President Dana Sande told The Grand Forks Herald. “So once the city determines that the sidewalks should go into your neighborhood, you have one of three options: you can either put the sidewalk in yourself, you can hire a contractor to put it in, or you can have the city hire a contractor to put them in and be special assessed the fee. There are no other options.”

The council is requiring all homeowners to put in sidewalks in a plan to make Grand Forks “more connected,” The Herald reported. The sidewalk requirement has been on the books for many years but a previous council granted some homeowners a 10-year exemption. The present council has decided not to honor that provision.

“They’re just automatically going to do it and automatically put it on our specials and we’re just going to have to pay for it, so we don’t have a say,” homeowner Jared Johnson told WDAZ-TV.

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Johnson estimates the sidewalk he does not want would cost $8,500. That would add about $100 a month to his property tax bill.

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Residents have no choice.

“They were granted a 10-year extension, so other neighborhoods could come and ask the same thing,” Sande said. “I would doubt the city would have much appetite for offering extensions for sidewalks, though, because, again, sidewalks are about community.”

That means property owners like Johnson will see a higher tax bill and lose part of their property. Around half of Johnson’s neighbors have signed a petition against sidewalks.

“It’ll be a foot off of our property marker up on the corner, then it’ll cut across here in the driveway which will take away a lot of our driveway space, unfortunately,” Johnson said.

What do you think? Should homeowners be forced to pay for sidewalks on their own property? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Judge Rules Town Can Ban Vegetable Gardens Because They’re Ugly

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BREAKING: Judge Rules Town Can Ban Vegetable Gardens Because They’re Ugly

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MIAMI – In a blow to freedom and property rights, a Florida judge has ruled that residents of Miami Shores do not have a fundamental right to grow vegetables in their front yard, even if they don’t have a backyard or their backyard is deficient for growing plants.

Miami Shores officials say the ordinance benefits neighborhood aesthetics.

The ruling by Circuit Court Judge Monica Gordo is a blow to the well-publicized case of Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll, a married couple who say their backyard is too shady to grow a garden.

The couple grew vegetables in the front yard for 17 years for health and financial reasons until the Miami Shores village government passed an ordinance banning front yard vegetable growing. Ricketts and Carroll were facing a $50-a-day fine.

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“This Court is not convinced that the prohibition of front-yard vegetable gardens impairs any fundamental right” Gordo wrote in her Aug. 25 opinion. “… The Court finds that the prohibition of vegetable gardens except in back yards is rationally related to Miami Shores’ legitimate interest in promoting and maintaining aesthetics.”

She added that “protecting aesthetics is a legitimate government purpose.”

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The couple was represented by the Institute for Justice, which offered experts who argued that vegetables “do not have an intrinsically good or bad visual quality” and “are not aesthetically degrading,” but Gordo wrote that the city’s law was a “value judgement” that she would not second guess.

The Institute for Justice said it will appeal the ruling.

“Today’s ruling affects every homeowner in Miami Shores who wants to grow a garden in their front yard,” said Institute for Justice attorney Ari Bargil. “The court agreed that Miami Shores never explained how banning front-yard vegetable gardens promotes its claimed interest in ‘aesthetics,’ but the court nevertheless ruled that the village has the power to ban these gardens anyway.”

Their garden was known as one of the more attractive ones in the area.

“I am disappointed by today’s ruling,” Ricketts said. “My garden not only provided us with food, but it was also beautiful and added character to the community. I look forward to continuing this fight and ultimately winning so I can once again use my property productively instead of being forced to have a useless lawn.”

Bargil noted that if Ricketts and Carroll wanted to “grow fruit or flowers or display pink flamingos,” the town would have been fine with it.

“They should be equally free to grow food for their own consumption, which they did for 17 years before the village forced them to uproot the very source of their sustenance,” he added.

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The Right To Garden Is On Trial In Crazy-But-True Court Case

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The Right To Garden Is On Trial In Crazy-But-True Court Case

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A judge will hear a case this month to determine if a Florida couple can grow vegetables in their own yard.

Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll are the couple who had to rip out a garden they had grown for 17 years because of a zoning ordinance, as Off The Grid News previously reported.

On May 26 a Florida state judge will hear arguments and begin determining if the Village of Miami Shores violated the couple’s rights in 2013 by changing zoning ordinances to ban front-yard vegetable gardens. Shortly after the ban, code enforcement officers gave the couple a choice of pulling their vegetables or paying a $50-a-day fine.

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The garden was ordered removed for aesthetic reasons, even though neighbors and passersby would often complement the married couple on the garden’s beauty, The Institute for Justice reported. The Institute’s attorneys are representing Ricketts and Carroll in a lawsuit against the village.

Garden Ban Violated State Constitution

The Institute is contending that Miami Shores violated the Florida Constitution’s basic rights clause, which grants property rights to all the state’s residents.

“Any such collection of rights naturally includes the right to use property to provide for the basic necessities of life,” the Institute said in a news release. “Indeed, the right to procure and consume nutritious food has been considered part and parcel of the celebrated American ‘right to pursue one’s happiness.’”

Attorneys also contend that the village violated the Florida State Constitution’s privacy clause, which bans arbitrary government interference in private activities.

“The fact is, Miami Shores is not rejecting the physical appearance of Hermine and Tom’s garden at all,” the press release said. “Rather, it is misusing its regulatory power to prohibit a certain lifestyle, one in which responsible property owners put their property to productive use — in a way that harms no one — in order to become independent and self-sufficient. It is utterly irrational that Hermine and Tom could have flowers, fruit or flamingos in their front yard, but not vegetables.”

If the judge rules in the couple’s favor it would be a major victory for all Floridians who want to garden. Other cities, including Orlando, have tried to ban front yard gardens.

“Simply put, government has no legitimate interest in preventing people from seeing vegetables,” the press release said.

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BREAKING: Another American Town Has Ordered A Family To Destroy Its Vegetable Garden

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Another American Town Has Ordered A Family To Destroy Its Vegetable Garden

The garden at the center of the controversy.

A Missouri family has been ordered to destroy its vegetable garden or face fines, simply because it is within 30 feet of a street.

The new ordinance in Sugar Creek, Missouri, appears to be aimed at only one family.

“Them coming and telling me I can’t have a garden, then what comes next?” garden owner Nathan Athans asked TV station KSHB. “I just want to grow my own food and provide for my family.”

The village of Sugar Creek banned vegetable gardens located within 30 feet of the street after it says it received complaints from citizens. Athans contends the ordinance was directed against him, because last year the village cited him for having weeds in his garden.

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The garden is in the front yard because the back yard does not receive enough sunlight to support a garden.

The family has received an outpouring of support since the story broke in local media.

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“Around the world, I’ve had people from the UK, Australia, Denmark, Holland, France emailing me and emailing the city council, saying this isn’t just a local issue, this is an international issue,” Athans told KSHB.

Sugar Creek actually encourages gardening, and the village maintains a community garden where residents can grow vegetables. Athans, though, said the community garden requires a rental fee, and he sees no reason why he would pay money for something he can do for free in his yard.

“I want my family to know where their food is coming from, I don’t want to have to go to the grocery store and worry about what was done to that food, Athans said.

The two sides disagree over whether his garden has been properly maintained.

“I don’t know that there would have been a problem with them had the gardens been well kept, [but] they weren’t,” the village’s building official, Paul Loving, told KSHB.

Last year, Athans was cited for weeds in his garden.

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“We did it, completely weed-free. We paid our citation,” Athans said.

Ari Bargil, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, said the garden should be allowed.

“This is a very peaceful, productive use of property. It’s not harming anybody, [and] it’s not harming the land,” Bargil told KSHB. “They’re using it to feed themselves. This is a basic liberty that all Americans should be able to exercise.”

(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s previous interview with Bargil here.)

Athans is far from alone, and gardeners in other parts of the US and Canada have run into similar prohibitions. Miami Shores, Florida, residents Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll were ordered to tear out an organic vegetable garden they had tended for 17 years because it was in the front yard.

A petition supporting the Sugar Creek garden was launched at Change.org. The goal is 15,000 signatures, and thus far it has 10,000.

“We believe in sustainability, growing our food locally without pesticides and excessive fertilizer use, reducing our need for fossil fuels to import produce from other countries, countries that have little or no regulations on pesticide use,” it reads. “ … “The city exclusively made this ordinance for our family and we want to fight it so we can grow our little garden in peace.”

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