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Bill Allowing Home Vegetable Gardens Passes First Committee

January 23rd, 2019 by Mike Vasilinda

Thousands of homeowners across Florida will soon be planting their spring vegetable gardens.

Some cities have enacted bans on gardens in the front yard, but  powerful lawmakers are challenging the bans with legislation they say will protect homeowners property rights.

For 17 years, a Miami Shores couple grew a vegetable garden in their front yard.

Then the city threatened 50 dollar a day fines.

“This is a property rights issue. It’s not a home rule issue,” said Representative Elizabeth Fetterhoff.

Now losing court fights have sparked legislative debate over property rights.

“We want to make sure that fruits and herbs and various things like that are also included,” said Fetterhoff. “Tomatoes. Some of you may not know is actually a fruit, so we want to make sure individuals can grow their tomatoes.”

For 30 minutes, lawmakers peppered the sponsor with questions.

The League of Cities says only ten or so have banned the front yard gardens.

“Certain neighbors were afraid that if you had tall crops if could affect the property values of the neighboring property, for example,” said David Cruz with the League.

In the end, the committee voted 13-1 to stop local governments from banning the front yard gardens.

“It goes back to victory gardens. Our government used to encourage us to grow gardens,” said Fetterhoff. “They used to encourage us to provide for ur families, and now we have local government coming in and telling private property owners they can’t grow gardens, they can’t provide for their family.”

One of the more pressing questions asked by lawyers was whether allowing front yard gardens would impact restrictions in deeds.

The answer is it won’t.

Based on the debate, and the questions both answered and unanswered the legislation is almost certain to be a political hot pepper, err, potato.

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