Michigan Woman Faces 93 Days in Jail for Planting a Vegetable Garden


petros
#1
It just doesn't get more ridiculous than this.

Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan -- a mother of 6, law-abiding citizen, and gardener -- is facing 93 days in jail after being charged with a misdemeanor.

Her crime? Planting a vegetable garden in the front yard.

Bass says that she planted the garden after her front yard was torn up for some sewer repairs. Rather than wasting the opportunity to start with a clean slate by planting a lawn, she decided to really put the area to use, and plant a vegetable garden.

Her garden consists of 5 raised beds, where she grows a mix of squashes, corn, tomatoes, flowers, and other veggies. Bass received a warning from the city telling her to remove the vegetable garden, because it doesn't adhere to city ordinances (more on that later.) When she refused, she was ticketed and charged with a misdemeanor.

Her trial, before a jury, is set to begin on July 26th. If she is found guilty, she can be sentenced to up to 93 days in jail.

About the City Ordinance
Supposedly, Bass is in noncompliance with a city ordinance that states that only "suitable" plant material is allowed on the lawn area of residences. When local media asked city planner Kevin Rulkowski what that meant, he said suitable means "common:" lawn, nice shrubs, and flowers. However, the city ordinance does not specifically state that those are the only allowed plant materials.

About Oak Park
This is not some gated community with HOA regulations. This is an ordinary, working class neighborhood in Oakland County, Michigan. Like nearly every other city in my home state right now, Oak Park is facing financial issues. Here at home, people are amazed that a cash-strapped city has the resources to investigate, charge, and prosecute a resident for something as innocuous as planting a vegetable garden.
 
shadowshiv
+1
#2
I hope that this gets tossed out, and that the city foots the bill for whatever costs she incurs because of this stupidity. Really, is a vegetable garden that bad to look at?
 
TenPenny
+3
#3  Top Rated Post
I don't think the city stands a chance, if the ordinance says 'suitable'. That's so vague as to be meaningless; it's obviously 'suitable' for her, therefore, it is not against the rules.
 
Colpy
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by petrosView Post

It just doesn't get more ridiculous than this.

Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan -- a mother of 6, law-abiding citizen, and gardener -- is facing 93 days in jail after being charged with a misdemeanor.

Her crime? Planting a vegetable garden in the front yard.

Bass says that she planted the garden after her front yard was torn up for some sewer repairs. Rather than wasting the opportunity to start with a clean slate by planting a lawn, she decided to really put the area to use, and plant a vegetable garden.

Her garden consists of 5 raised beds, where she grows a mix of squashes, corn, tomatoes, flowers, and other veggies. Bass received a warning from the city telling her to remove the vegetable garden, because it doesn't adhere to city ordinances (more on that later.) When she refused, she was ticketed and charged with a misdemeanor.

Her trial, before a jury, is set to begin on July 26th. If she is found guilty, she can be sentenced to up to 93 days in jail.

About the City Ordinance
Supposedly, Bass is in noncompliance with a city ordinance that states that only "suitable" plant material is allowed on the lawn area of residences. When local media asked city planner Kevin Rulkowski what that meant, he said suitable means "common:" lawn, nice shrubs, and flowers. However, the city ordinance does not specifically state that those are the only allowed plant materials.

About Oak Park
This is not some gated community with HOA regulations. This is an ordinary, working class neighborhood in Oakland County, Michigan. Like nearly every other city in my home state right now, Oak Park is facing financial issues. Here at home, people are amazed that a cash-strapped city has the resources to investigate, charge, and prosecute a resident for something as innocuous as planting a vegetable garden.

Damn it, this stuff drives me crazy... (a very short trip)

if I buy a piece of land and pay taxes, it is absolutely none of the city's business what I plant on it, as long as it is not criminal nor a threat to the health or well-being of my neighbours........

The State really is getting over the edge with interference.......
 
petros
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by ColpyView Post

Damn it, this stuff drives me crazy... (a very short trip)

if I buy a piece of land and pay taxes, it is absolutely none of the city's business what I plant on it, as long as it is not criminal nor a threat to the health or well-being of my neighbours........

The State really is getting over the edge with interference.......

If you are a corner grocer can it be a threat to your financial well being? I'm sure some jackass would sue for such a reasons.
 
ironsides
#6
They have similar codes/restrictions in my town also. A neighbor got cited for have a spice garden in the front yard. According to town rules, you can only have grass or natural look. Gardens are OK in back yard. I see nothing wrong with a garden in the front, if it is kept neat and clean.
 
petros
+1
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by ironsidesView Post

They have similar codes/restrictions in my town also. A neighbor got cited for have a spice garden in the front yard. According to town rules, you can only have grass or natural look. Gardens are OK in back yard. I see nothing wrong with a garden in the front, if it is kept neat and clean.

There are laws in some regions that say it's illegal to collect rainwater for your garden because industrial interests down stream may or may not need that water more than you do.
 
taxslave
#8
There is a worse one going on in Lantzville(Nanaimo) right now. A couple that have around 2 acres inside the city limits zoned residential have been growing organic produce to sell.Lantzville has no farm zoning and appear unwilling to create one. Well horror of horrors that can not be. Can't make money off your property. City staff are currently taking them to court at taxpayers expense to stop this. Apparently with two acres one can only grow a lawn. This stupid little bureaucratic BS is splitting the community and council.
 
YukonJack
#9
No surprise!

Detroit has been ruled by Democrats for the last fifty years.

No pun intended, but since we are talking about gardens, you reap what you sow.
 
Draco
+1
#10
This is rediculous beyond comparison. I am from Michigan and it embarasses me to think that there are such stupidity among the bearucrats. Are they just bored or that stupid? Here they are bankrupt state, complaining 80 percent of the state is on welfare and they want to take a woman with children to court because she wants to grow vegitables to feed the family? How low can they go? They should be for building instead of taking down.
 
Corduroy
#11
I doubt the jury would convict her.

We have a vegetable garden in our front yard. Never bothered to look at the city regulations.
 
The Old Medic
#12
If I were that lady, I would plant grass and refuse to mow it. That would be grass in its natural state!
 
damngrumpy
+1
#13
The regulation Nazis are in full swing, they are as bad as the condo Nazis as I call them. I once was
almost talked into buying one of those condos for a retirement option, that is until I started to learn
what was involved. When cities and condo complexes get making their silly rulings even in the face of
common sense, it almost enough to make you want to be homeless. Oh wait, they are making laws
against that too,.
It is time to demand common sense. During the Second World War nearly every home had a victory
garden, now it is bad taste to have vegetables growing in your yard, has the world gone mad?
I am afraid to ask that question because I think I know the answer.
 
petros
#14
Quote:

.....has the world gone mad?

Yuuuuuuuuuuuup!
 
EagleSmack
#15
This is insanity.

On my way home from work I drive through a real wealthy town. Real nice houses, lawns etc. A right smack in the middle of all this wealth is a homeowner that is clearly a hoarder. His yard is covered with debris of all kinds, cars, trash barrels, piles of wood, you name it. The lawn is unkept, and you can see boxes piled up in all the windows.

I kind of get a kick out of it.
 
petros
#16
Yup insanity all right. Just like it's insanity that I pay $10.41 (plus GST) for water runoff that I collect in rain barrels or else it sits in front of my house in a big puddle because the street grade no longer carries the run-off to the street catch basins?
 
EagleSmack
-1
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by petrosView Post

Yup insanity all right. Just like it's insanity that I pay $10.41 (plus GST) for water runoff that I collect in rain barrels or else it sits in front of my house in a big puddle because the street grade no longer carries the run-off to the street catch basins?


Why do you have to pay that?
 
petros
#18
I asked the City the same damn thing. They can't give me a good reason either.
 
Ariadne
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by EagleSmackView Post

This is insanity.

On my way home from work I drive through a real wealthy town. Real nice houses, lawns etc. A right smack in the middle of all this wealth is a homeowner that is clearly a hoarder. His yard is covered with debris of all kinds, cars, trash barrels, piles of wood, you name it. The lawn is unkept, and you can see boxes piled up in all the windows.

I kind of get a kick out of it.

I have the happening right next door - sort of. When I first moved here, about 12 years ago, the neighbours (very snobby) pampered their lawn with weekly cuts, regular fertilizer and in-ground sprinkler system on a daily timer. 3 years ago, they moved away and another couple moved in. They never used the sprinkler and cut the lawn every three weeks - never fertilized. When they sold, they took all the Christmas lights with them - lights that had been put all the way to the top of really tall spruce trees with a cherry picker by the previous owner. Next, the house was purchased by someone that lives overseas and rented to a couple that moved here from Europe. It's clear that they don't have a lawnmower. Although I've never been one to much care what others do with their yards, I am just shocked as I watch the lawn grow and go to seed. All that beautiful lawn care is all for naught as it goes to seed, and it will never be the same. I won't complain, even though the grass is much to high for by-law regulations. We'll see what happens.

 
petros
#20
If that were my neighbour, I'd just mow it myself.
 
TenPenny
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by EagleSmackView Post

This is insanity.

On my way home from work I drive through a real wealthy town. Real nice houses, lawns etc. A right smack in the middle of all this wealth is a homeowner that is clearly a hoarder. His yard is covered with debris of all kinds, cars, trash barrels, piles of wood, you name it. The lawn is unkept, and you can see boxes piled up in all the windows.

I kind of get a kick out of it.

I know someone who is a hoarder. He has one sister, and when his father died, he got all of the money (being the son, and first born) and businesses, his sister got a small income from a trust, that reverts to the brother when she dies.

He buys stuff. Houses, trucks, tractors, motels, the contents of stores that go bankrupt. And he never sells anything. He had to buy an old motel to store more of his stuff in. And the town has ordered him to do some maintenance on his childhood home, as the front porch was falling off.

When his house gets so full of junk that he can't move, he buys another one, and starts over.
 
petros
#22
I know someone like that . My junkle.

Sometimes he's my drunkle but that's a whole new storyline.

Guess who phoned for help moving?

Guess who is going on holidays that week?
 
Ariadne
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by petrosView Post

If that were my neighbour, I'd just mow it myself.

I would too, but I don't have a lawnmower.

Quote: Originally Posted by TenPennyView Post

I know someone who is a hoarder. He has one sister, and when his father died, he got all of the money (being the son, and first born) and businesses, his sister got a small income from a trust, that reverts to the brother when she dies.

He buys stuff. Houses, trucks, tractors, motels, the contents of stores that go bankrupt. And he never sells anything. He had to buy an old motel to store more of his stuff in. And the town has ordered him to do some maintenance on his childhood home, as the front porch was falling off.

When his house gets so full of junk that he can't move, he buys another one, and starts over.

Sounds like a disorder of some sort.
 
petros
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by AriadneView Post

I would too, but I don't have a lawnmower.

That could be problematic. In Regina if I make a phone call I can get Fine Option (those working off court fines) people to come and mow and weed whack the alley. Nothing like that in your city?
 
Ariadne
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by petrosView Post

That could be problematic. In Regina if I make a phone call I can get Fine Option (those working off court fines) people to come and mow and weed whack the alley. Nothing like that in your city?

I will suggest that the neighbours look into that possibility ... because something should be done sooner than later. The entire lawn will be ruined by the end of the summer, if it isn't already ruined right now with the coarse stalks of grass in seed.
 
petros
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by AriadneView Post

I will suggest that the neighbours look into that possibility ... because something should be done sooner than later. The entire lawn will be ruined by the end of the summer, if it isn't already ruined right now with the coarse stalks of grass in seed.

There should be a "noxious weed by-law" you might be able to utilize to have it cut too. Call the city and say the pollenating grasses are inducing asthma issues. Then they'll have no choice but send someone.
 
Ariadne
#27
City bylaw would give a 48 hour notice with the threat of a fine, but I don't want to do that to a neighbour. They should be able to figure it out ... he's a neurologist, and cutting the grass shouldn't be that much of a stretch from shaving someone's head just before switching on the bone drill ... in fact, a vegetable garden would be quite all right with me too if that would be easier than cutting the grass.
 
gopher
-1
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by YukonJackView Post

No surprise!

Detroit has been ruled by Democrats for the last fifty years.

No pun intended, but since we are talking about gardens, you reap what you sow.

This incident took place in Oakland County which is predominantly Republican.

Oakland County elected officials

  • County Executive (external - login to view): L. Brooks Patterson (external - login to view) (Republican (external - login to view))
  • Prosecuting Attorney (external - login to view): Jessica R. Cooper (external - login to view) (Democrat) [7] (external - login to view)
  • Sheriff (external - login to view): Mike Bouchard (external - login to view) (Republican)
  • County Clerk (external - login to view)/Register of Deeds (external - login to view): Bill Bullard, Jr. (external - login to view) (Republican)
  • County Treasurer (external - login to view): Andy Meisner (external - login to view) (Democrat)
  • Water Resources Commissioner (external - login to view): John P. McCulloch (external - login to view) (Republican)
  • Board of Commissioners (external - login to view): 25 members, elected from districts (15 Republicans, 10 Democrats)
 
petros
#29
Quote: Originally Posted by AriadneView Post

City bylaw would give a 48 hour notice with the threat of a fine, but I don't want to do that to a neighbour. They should be able to figure it out ... he's a neurologist, and cutting the grass shouldn't be that much of a stretch from shaving someone's head just before switching on the bone drill ... in fact, a vegetable garden would be quite all right with me too if that would be easier than cutting the grass.

Just because he's a neurologist doesn't mean he knows how to run a mower. I'd just call the city and get them to handle it.

I wish my camera wasn't broken. I'd show you a pic of a lawn on the next block over that will need a swather and hay baler to clean up. The grass is close to 60-70cm.
 
Ariadne
#30
I guess so ... it doesn't look good - kind of like the place is unoccupied, but I know they're home.
 

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