Whenever city officials begin talking about changes to zoning laws, it’s always a concern of residents as to what will be “moving in” next door to them. But what if your new neighbor turns out to be a community garden? Or perhaps what is now being dubbed an “urban farm?” What would you think then?

Residents in Detroit are asking themselves these very questions this month after the city’s planning commission approved a new urban agricultural zoning ordinance. The new law is in an effort to officially recognize community gardens within the city and promote more urban gardens such as Hantz Farms’ proposal for a large-scale tree-growing project.

With the nation pushing closer towards a “green” future, many people in the community feel that this new ordinance could not only promote a healthier planet but could be a good way of beautifying the city. Some neighborhood activists on the other hand are disputing the city’s decision to create a new zoning law saying that this could create a land grab.

It’s important to point out that urban agricultural zoning laws are slightly different than those zoning laws typically associated with agriculture. In this instance, the size of a lot is more than likely smaller than what is zoned for farming communities. It may, however, prevent non-farm use on the property in the future if it were to be sold to another owner.

For residents in Detroit, it’s unclear at this time how much of an impact these new zoning ordinances will have on the community. This is especially true for residents on the city’s east side where there are several vacant residential lots. It’s unclear if they will be sold to Hantz Farms or not, though reports suggest that the city council is expected to take up the company’s proposal.

Source: The Alpena News, “Detroit’s urban agriculture zoning moves ahead,” The Associated Press, Dec. 8, 2012

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