Please Help Me SAY NO TO A GARDEN TAX! #NOGARDENTAX

Garden, Urban Life — By on February 22, 2012 3:47 am

Shawna Coronado's Street Garden

I NEED YOUR HELP!

My city is forcing me to pay a “garden tax” on this garden and singling me out in my community to do so and I think it is unjust!

I want there to be no “garden tax” in my community so that more people can afford to feed their family’s, attract native wildlife, conserve water, and help beautify our neighborhoods by gardening on shared easement areas.

This is the garden I built behind my home for my community on shared easement area with the city. It is primarily a mixed native plant and drought tolerant garden and I cannot see the garden from my back door – it is meant to be enjoyed by others and to help beautify our community and improve the economic value of our homes. People who pass by the garden stop me, thank me, and encourage me to keep growing it because it helps our neighborhood.

You can imagine how upset I was when a city employee recently called me and announced that I would be required to sign an ordinance agreement and pay fees to the city on this garden. Although the ordinance is a “city-wide” ordinance which would apply to all citizens that have landscaping of any kind of their easement property, the employee said that my garden and five others are being singled out by the city to have the ordinance applied only to them.

I was horrified that I was singled out from everyone in a negative way and I confess that I cried when I hung up the phone. I have worked so hard to help beautify and help the city. For them to put me in this negative category after all my efforts to build and to inspire others to help grow community was crushing.

I was not informed when this ordinance was being formed or put into place. City management decided to enforce this new ordinance with 5 or 6 existing gardens that existed before the ordinance was changed – my garden is one of them. Essentially, this is a “garden tax” and the fine for refusing to sign and pay these fees is quite large. Worse yet, the singling out individuals by the city over a city-wide ordinance is discrimination and is a concern for me and my family.

Being asked to pay the city a fee when we are maintaining that landscaping and property at our own expense makes no sense to me.

What really saddens me is with the ordinance in place, new gardeners are discouraged to garden because of the fees. What if a family was starving and needed to feed their children and wanted to place a well-tended vegetable garden on easement property? If you are poor, you certainly cannot afford city fees and taxes built to discourage gardening. What if you just wanted to beautify your community and help keep your home value up? These fees would discourage that too.

In the United States and even in my small Illinois town, Warrenville, people are going hungry, businesses are shutting down, and bankruptcy is rampant. Gardens can feed the hungry, beautify the community so more businesses want to stay, and help manage and reroute water drainage issues (saving taxpayer’s money). We need gardens now more than ever!

Tonight I went to a City Council meeting and requested that both the issue of singling people out and the issue of the “garden tax” be readdressed by the city. I posted what I said to the City Council below so you can see more detail on how the city approached me and why I am trying to get support.

I NEED YOUR HELP! Please help me show the City of Warrenville in a peaceful way that we are in support of NO GARDEN TAX in our communities. #NOGARDENTAX

Leave a comment below  effectively signing a petition to help me make a difference!

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WHAT I SAID AT THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING ON 2/21/12:

My name is Shawna Coronado. I live at [gave address] in Warrenville, IL.

Friday, February 10, I received a call from Sonya Shearer, the City of Warrenville’s Code Enforcement Officer, about the 200’ long garden I’ve built along my and 2 other residents’ easement property she told me I would signthe City of Warrenville Landscape License and Covenant Agreement and pay a fee. Those fees will be $35 to the City of Warrenville and approximately $40 additional to the county.

Also, Ms. Shearer went to an organization I am a part of; Warrenville In Bloom. Without my presence there, Sonya asked them to help her police “the problem” which is my garden. If someone is complaining about my garden to the city I should receive a written notification, certainly not conversations with non-profit organizations I am a member of.

I want to work with the city in a positive way and I am pleased to see that we are all committed to working together for the benefit of our neighborhoods and the greater City. With this in mind, my concern is that Sonya told me that the agreement was actually set in place for all the citizens of Warrenville who had landscaping of any kindon their shared easement property, from mailbox gardens to bushes and trees, but that the city is not approaching other easement gardeners. They are only approaching me and five other gardeners.

Now I’m not sure why I’m being singled out and I don’t know who these other five homeowners are, but we share something that the rest of Warrenville does not: we are being segregated by the city into a category that is different and unique then the rest of the community. That is discrimination. To be prepared to police this ordinance you must hire enough staff to do so fairly – you must do a survey of every property in Warrenville, determine which homeowners have trees, bushes, or gardens in an easement area, then force them into fines and signatures equally or change the ordinance policy entirely.

I have researched the current City Easement ordinances here in Warrenville and discovered that they have changed from when I originally installed the garden. I was not notified of nor invited to the City Council meetings during the time when these property ordinances were being decided upon even though the property I have been taking care of would be financially impacted. Neither were the other homeowners in Warrenville who have had existing landscaping on easement property.

My thought is this Landscape Covenant is a money making ordinance and a tactic built to put more control into the city’s hands over our properties. In essence, the City of Warrenville has built a “Garden Tax” to be placed on our community at a time when some of its citizens are going hungry and have no money – a time when we all need gardens more than ever to beautify, strengthen, and grow our city.

I have spent hundreds of hours in this garden, spending time and money to beautify our community. Dozens of my friends and neighbors have donated plants for this garden. I have worked tirelessly in the last five years to educate people on how to feed the hungry, how to conserve water, how to help their communities, and how a garden is not simply a garden, but is a tool with which to improve economic viability within our community.

Utilizing social media I have been able to get positive attention for the City of Warrenville on a global scale. I have built a career on encouraging people to get involved in their communities and have followers in dozens of countries who think of this place as an idyllic small town in America because of my efforts. Our family has continued to be dedicated to volunteering and supporting Warrenville with pride for the more than 13 years we have lived here. After all those years of hard work, financial investment, and time spent you can imagine that getting this telephone call from Sonya singling me out in a negative way from the rest of our community feels unjustly discriminatory and pretty much broke my heart.

This city does not need discrimination, it does not need another ordinance which is an attempt to collect fees and control people, it does not need a “Garden Tax”. What this city needs is some common sense. I feel as if have spent the last five years of my life trying to encourage growth in our community and in one ordinance the city has been able to squash my progress in a single swoop.

I am here this evening to bring all of this to your attention and to request that this situation AND the Landscape License and Covenant Agreement be addressed by the City Council. NO ONE in Warrenville, Illinois should be discriminated against or discouraged from helping beautify our community by having to pay a “Garden Tax” when hundreds of people in our community are going hungry, when our homes are being economically devalued, when businesses are closing up shop and we are losing the power to entice them to stay, and when we could change much of this with a few concerned citizens and the power of a garden.

I want the ordinance fee to be removed for every resident of the city. I want our community to be able to plant on easement property without ordinance fees, within the constraints of basic rules set forth by the city such as no tree or invasive plantings. And I want any policing of the easement properties to be done so fairly and without discrimination.

I know that both Warrenville and I are committed to working together to benefit our neighborhoods and city. Having said that, City Council, I hope you will please consider investigating this situation and readdressing this ordinance. Will you please put this on the agenda for the next City Council Meeting?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

*Note – The city did not answer me while I was there. I will have to wait to see what it is they vote to do.

Thank you very much for your support.

ANOTHER POST – THE CITY HAS RESPONDED and SHAWNA HAS CLARIFIED SOME ISSUES OF CONCERN – go to this LINK.

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264 Comments

  1. sfsuki says:

    Absolutely ridiculous.
    You should be sending them a bill for the positive PR and beautification.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The city must be in serious need of funds! You are doing them and everybody else a wonderful service and they are going to tax you for it??? That is seriously wrong! They should be paying you for your beautiful gardens!

  3. Beautiful gardens enrich a community and you should not be taxed because you made your part of that community a better place. Booo City of Warrenville…Booo

  4. Denise Schreiber says:

    Dear Council,
    I am horrified that you would think to tax a landscape of which you provide no support or maintenance but provides the city with a pleasing view instead of littered weedy areas usually not maintained by municipal workers because of costs and lack of manpower. As a county employee in Pennsylvania, we would be thrilled to have homeowners to help out local governments in this manner.
    You may also want to talk to your local real estate association and ask them the effects of landscaping on property value. I'm am sure they will tell you it increases the values of not only the property but the other properties surrounding it. By allowing this type of landscaping you are also contributing to the local economy since these gardeners are supporting local businesses that pay taxes. And as a bonus, you allow the air to be a bit cleaner, pollinators to survive and the gardens put a smile on everyone's face!

    Sincerely
    Denise Schreiber

  5. Shawna has done a wonderful 'job' of beautifying (and MAINTAINING!) an area of the city which otherwise would likely look crappy. Whoever heard of taxing a garden? Sheesh! Your city govt's decision to do this thing is totally idiotic and makes no logical sense whatsoever.

  6. Janit Calvo says:

    This is unfortunate that someone like you, Shawna, has to take your focus off the great work that you do, to take care of this absolute nonsense. Somebody needs to take up a real hobby, like gardening.

  7. BigAus in TX says:

    How just totally absurd. How many tax dollars and hours of wasted time did it take for them to come up with this lamebrain idea? Wow, they don't have to mow, you weed, you water when needed, you buy the plants. And now you pay $75. Makes a lot of sense if you don't think about it. NO GARDEN TAX!

  8. What kind of a city imposes a fee to a residence who is trying to improve the landscape and overall look of the community. The home owner paid for the expense of installing the garden and now you want to tax her garden? This is America, home of the free and the brave. The City of Warrenville, you should be ashamed of your actions.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Did I just take some crazy pills? I don't see the logic in this ordinance! So many communities would love to have its citizens make their public spaces happy, healthy, productive, and beautiful.

  10. Krista says:

    This is so outrageous! Have any of the members of the city counsel read about the plight of the honeybees and pollinators in general lately? We all should be creating and maintaining gardens like Mrs. Coronado is doing. Not only do gardens like the one Mrs. Coronado planted create beauty, raise property values and reduce crime they also serve important ecological functions that improve the livability of your city! Please rescind this life-negating and unfair tax!

  11. Grimmalf says:

    I am saddened, but not surprised, by the action of the Warrenville City Council. This smells like pay-back for your earlier comments about leaking water pipes.
    You've done your city a service; they should be rewarding your efforts, not punishing you for trying to make Warrenville a better more beautiful place.
    It seems to me that the council would be wise to apply their energies to something in more need of attention. Such as leaking water and/or sewage pipes.
    Rose McDonald

  12. Vinnie V says:

    Shawna, I'm glad to hear that you're standing up to this ridiculous ordinance. Denise has a lot of great points regarding your garden, your property value and support of the local community.

    I'd be curious to know whether any of these councilmen have planted anything in their lawn.

    Sounds like you may need to contact one of our local news investigative reporters for some help with this if the Warrenville council doesn't reconsider.

  13. Mrs. Patty says:

    It is very sad to see your local government make such senseless regulations and imposing these costs on those of you in your community who have done such a great job at bringing beauty and life to what would otherwise be a weed patch. How sad they refuse to recognize the gifts they have in citizens such as yourself who care enough to work so hard to make their cities a great place to live…very sad indeed.

    I am sharing your post on FB and wish you all the best in your efforts to get this overturned.

  14. ResuMAYDAY says:

    The mentality of this tax and the way it was carried out is so anti-Warrenville! Keep doing what you can to actually talk to someone who will answer your questions and will rise to the normal level of transparency to which we have all become accustomed. The fact that they passed this tax without conversation and are not allowing you to be exempt through 'grandfathering' seems more like Chicago politics, than out here. And why this particular issue? It makes me wonder if they passed a lot of taxes recently and this was just one of them…or are they truly singling out you? How bizarre. Gardens on easements? It hardly seems worth their time, especially for the grand total of $75. If you decide to put a coffee can out to ask for donations, let me know.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the city should go around looking at the various areas of town that are not maintained by the city that should be (like shrubs, bushes, and trees that hang over sidewalks and people cant take a walk). And what about cracked and broken sidewalks that children fall on. Should the city be fined for not maintaining what they consider “their property?” These things I mentioned are unsightly and often dangerous. Perhaps more attention should be given to those who arent doing what they can to beautify the city rather than those who are proud of their gardens and are willing to share them. Shame on the city council for not cleaning up their own back yard before trying to collect funds from Joe. Q. Gardener!

  16. Piper Bayard says:

    Shawna, this is terrible. As a recovering attorney, I advise you to seek legal council. Have them look at the terms of the easement and your other property documents. No fat lady's singing over this one.

  17. Stunned to hear that any municipality would pass an ordinance certain to discourage property owners from making their land attractive. I'm curious to know what “non-taxable use” of the land would be: Bare soil, lawn, or concrete?

    Lacking all the details, I'll guess that there's some question of accessibility; that the township reserves right of access. As long as a garden doesn't interfere with access, taxing the gardener is spurious. Does the tax ensure that the city will make repairs should their use of the easement damage the garden?

    This tax is embarrassing to the city of Warrenville. I hope the City Council decides to think through the issue and correct it–clearly, there wasn't much thought when they first passed the ordinance.

  18. Lunch Lady says:

    Seems to me, if the ordinance was put in place AFTER you had the garden, then you and the 5 others should be 'grand-fathered' to the ordinence for as long as you maintain the garden.

  19. Support those who garden and grow to better the environment and appearance of our neighborhoods, communities and spirits! Do not tax. That would be insured!
    -Maggie Stolzberg

  20. sandlwood says:

    I am more than appalled and disappointed in my city Warrenville! I would think you would be giving someone like Shawna a tax BREAK for doing your job for you! This tax needs to be lifted. How about fining the people that leave garbage and weeds outside their easements? THAT makes more sense! Is this really what you want to say about our city? I think not….

  21. Chris K. says:

    This is messed up! Apparently they aren't aware that, in the war on gardens, the oppressors always lose! I will be sharing widely!

  22. loridean says:

    Very upset about this! I think she should charge the city for upkeep all these years. Shame on the city for trying to make a quick buck on a good thing!

  23. ResuMAYDAY says:

    And if the powers that be want to take care of a REAL problem around here, how about they do something to clean up the goose poop? Do any of the city officials walk on the sidewalks in Summerlakes or in the park grass?! Gross!

  24. Anonymous says:

    I live in North Carolina. Our cities attract many tourists, some of whom visit us because of the beautiful gardens planted along the public, state, and interstate roadways, in our public parks, as well as inside the cities. A good many of the gardens are located on easements and are maintained by beautification organizations and clubs, along with volunteers. These gardens are appreciated, not taxed. I am appalled to hear that the city of Warrenville, Illinois is trying to tax beautification projects that are planted by, maintained by, and are financed by private Warrenville homeowners who are also taxpayers. Instead of taxing them, you should be paying for their services and reimbursing them for their expenses.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Warrenville, Il …two words… Seriously? Ridiculous!

  26. Anonymous says:

    So sad. Someone actually willing to help their community unfairly punished. Then people wonder why no one helps anyone else out these days….

  27. Garden Chick says:

    This is a disgusting injustice, what they are doing to you! Have they nothing other to focus their attention on?! Cities form groups to beautify their neighborhoods and they want to tax individuals for doing work that many cities would give their eye teeth for to get their residents to do????? SHAME ON YOU WARRENVILLE!!!!!! I'm going to send this to Keep America Beautiful and maybe they can send this to their local affiliate there.

  28. Pam/Digging says:

    This is how the city council in Warrenville, IL, spends its time? Making up silly fines to punish people who spend their money and time beautifying the city?? It's utterly crazy, Shawna. I hope the ordinance is overturned and the city council can get busy on REAL problems in your city. I also hope your neighbors who've benefited from your garden stand up and speak out on your behalf.

  29. Is this in North Korea LOL. Wow Very sad.. People should be encouraged to grow their own veggie gardens..

  30. Christina Salwitz says:

    This City Council should be ashamed and embarrassed of themselves. Grandfathered in or not, the ink and meeting time that they $pent on creating AND trying to enforce this should be totaled up and put on a document showing where that money could have gone for a REAL benefit to the commons. What a farce.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I have known Shawna for many years and I am proud of her sincere efforts to improve herself and the world around her. It is a sad commentary on our times that a governmental authority decides to tax beautification of the environment. As a governmental authority, I find it appalling you have nothing better to do with your time. I suggest you reverse your decision and do something positive with your time like tax people for breathing air.

  32. cloverann says:

    The City of Warrenville needs to look again at what they are proposing: Shawna has provided a service and inspiration to the city – she has done an outstanding job to beautify and improve property values. She should be honored, NOT TAXED!

  33. Anonymous says:

    This is government gone amok. If they are looking for ways to fill the tax gap, this isn't it. You need to hire a lawyer. Someone will take this on contingency. They have no right to manufacture arbitrary ways to make money without a public referendum. No taxation without representation! Also, bring this to the attention of your local news media. It's amazing how people will back down when pressured.

  34. Sent to your city council by email: I cannot believe your city government has such lack of thinking as to punish your citizens for their time and effort to beautify your town. I think, if anything, the city should pay for the water to water the plants. Does the city rather that this land be fallow and go to weeds?

    I would love to have these kind of gardens all around my town here in the SF Bay Area. Your “Garden Tax” should be repealed.

  35. Cyndia Montgomery says:

    I was very fortunate to meet you, Shawna, when you spoke to the Tuscaloosa Master Gardeners in Alabama last fall. Your descriptions of the gardens you and your neighbors have developed, teaching people to feed their families, and the general beautification of an otherwise unattractive area inspired so many of us here.
    I am appalled beyond belief that the city of Warrenton has decided to tax you, when you have actually done their job for them, maintained and made beautiful and productive an area that was previously unused. Such moves by cities will actively discourage families from trying to grow food and could only place a further burden on an already burdened welfare system. Our country is already in enough trouble, without making arbitrary rules to punish those who are trying to make the world better.
    In my opinion, this is a boneheaded move, and I hope that the city council reconsiders this ordinance and abolishes it. This is another instance of not thinking things true. City leaders should spend their time on items that improve the city, not penalizing its citizens further.

  36. Gene's View says:

    Shawna's flower garden is along the road and sidewalk/bike path going into Fermilab. Lots of people see it and stop to look at it everyday. It is something beautiful to look at instead of the long wood security fence that also lines this road.

    Just a few yards west of her flower garden is the city pump house which is not so nice to look at. There are ruts in its yard caused by trucks unloading chemicals. I have complained to the city about this, but they have not done anything about this!

    I am puzzled by this tax. We all have easements which we are required to maintain. For example between the sidewalk and the street is an easement that the city owns but that we are expected to maintain. Does the city require that easements have only grass? Will I be taxed if I plant flowers in this area? Many cities are now encouraging home owners to use native plants instead of grass as they take less water and maintenance.

    - Eugene Bordelon

  37. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I am appalled to read this. I've shared on Facebook to help get the word out for you. I really can't believe something like this is happening. It's outrageous really.

  38. kate says:

    What a pathetic ordinance! The strip of flowers looks attractive and they should be encouraging this not taxing it!

  39. Carole Bryan says:

    oh no, for years now, I have weeded, turned over, added compost and seeded the tiny 24 inch strip between the sidewalk and the street in Roselle, about 10 miles NE of you. Do I have to fear a knock on my door from the “garden police”? I expect to hear you on WGN today and will contact your local authorities. Living for Spring!

  40. Anonymous says:

    A garden tax. Really! Most cities are in the business of beautifying their streets and byways in order to draw people to various areas of the community. I find it rather ludicrous that this city feels a need to tax gardeners.

  41. sarah says:

    The government strikes again. Good luck with your battle, I hope you are able to get the taxes changed. Warrenville…not a welcoming city that I would want to live in if that's how they treat their community.
    I will be happy to share this story!

  42. I'm baffled. Fees to contribute to a community's beauty, spirit and overall well being?

    You're doing a wonderful thing for your community, something the city should be grateful for and learning from. Perhaps it's time to make changes in the city council and zoning codes to add a bit of common sense. It's time for Warrenville to catch up with times.

  43. Rosemary says:

    Shame on you, city of Warrenville. Shawna has done your city a favor by informing the public on how to raise their own food and also gives food to the food bank. Please withdraw the idea of such a ridiculous bill.

  44. coachjstarr says:

    As a resident of IL…Im not surprised at all by the local governments attempts to follow suit with the corrupt states example of doing whatever they can by taxing whomever they can in an attempt to generate funds for this financially (and morally) bankrupt state! Regardless….l find this attempt to tax someone for providing free beautification of the city reprehensible!

    Perhaps you would prefer the broken bottles, plastic bags, cigarette butts, used condoms and drug paraphrnalia that usually litter the areas 'maintained' by the city..?!

    Have some self-respect and stop the panicked response of the money grab…leave these gardeners alone and bring some common sense back to local government.

  45. Rick Paine says:

    I totally support your efforts to push back this “garden” tax your community is imposing on you and a few others.

    I urge everyone to use their social media connections to spread the word and bring polite pressure to reverse this “tax”.

  46. RockyRides says:

    George told me about this last night when he got back from the meeting….. Is the city that stupid or what. You got my vote Shawna.

  47. Lisa S says:

    Taxing a garden? Insane! The city should PAY YOU for planting and maintaining such a beautiful space!

  48. It is absurd to me that energy is being spent on this issue – and that this is even an issue at all!

    I hope this short and fact-packed video about the insanity of grass lawns might help in some way.

    I hope you come out of this mess victorious!

    Tami

    http://youtu.be/-enGOMQgdvg

  49. So sorry you are going through this. Perhaps your efforts will help your city council approach community from the Citizen's perspective. You go girl!

  50. Anonymous says:

    To be honest, this isn't surprising although I will admit it is something I couldn't have guessed would happen. We are living in an era of a big government populated by power hungry people who think they know better what is good for the people. Tax your property if you improve it, fine it if you don't. I'm glad you're letting us know about this latest lunacy and I hope our comments in support of your cause are effective. Victory in small battles win large wars. I hope further that everyone comes to realize how important his/her vote is.

  51. Anonymous says:

    During a time when we struggle to see something beautiful in a world filled with negativity, once again local government reveals that its interest lies with self, versus doing the right and beautiful thing. What is their “bigger picture?” Seriously? The amount of time and tax dollars it has taken to even address this issues is ridiculous.
    Love spreads beauty, hate spreads ugliness.
    Obviously the city is enjoying the fruit of your labor by people wanting to live in your area versus a run-down community. They should be funneling their efforts into a bigger-larger concept for the common good. Such as turning abandoned spaces into community gardens.
    Local officials should walk away from this “garden tax” issue, immediately, if not sooner.

  52. Kathleen Cohn says:

    How utterly ridiculous and disgusting it is for them to tax you!

    No,NO, NO to a Garden Tax!

    Good luck to you!

  53. gardengeri says:

    I think the law should be a No-Garden Tax charged against those who don't put in a garden.
    Shawna's lovely landscape adds so much beauty to the community. What are they thinking?

  54. Anonymous says:

    Dear elected officials of Illinois,

    You give depth and stature to the members of the Los Angeles City Council. I did not know that was possible. But miracles do happen.

    Please rescind your short-sided and arbitrary fee schedule on easement plantings. The bees will thank you. And LA politicians would like to reclaim their title as being the most short-sighted amongst the electeds of the world.

    Mud Baron
    California

  55. Kim Peters says:

    I find it incredibly ironic that your lovely garden is being subject to this onerous tax. Apparently the city of Warrenville prefers a world filled with dirt and stones to one filled with flowers. What does this say about the current mindset of governments in the USA? It's a terrible shame that with all the ills in our economy, harassing contributing citizens is a priority.

  56. Aurealious says:

    Dear Council,
    I am horrified that you would think to tax a landscape of which you provide no support or maintenance but provides the city with a pleasing view instead of littered weedy areas usually not maintained by municipal workers because of costs and lack of manpower.
    You may also want to talk to your local real estate association and ask them the effects of landscaping on property value. I'm am sure they will tell you it increases the values of not only the property but the other properties surrounding it. By allowing this type of landscaping you are also contributing to the local economy since these gardeners are supporting local businesses that pay taxes. And as a bonus, you allow the air to be a bit cleaner, pollinators to survive and the gardens put a smile on everyone's face!

    Sincerely
    Elspeth LaForet

  57. Anonymous says:

    Contact Fox News. O'Reilly Factor loves these stories. You need to break this out beyond just a few people.

  58. Carmen says:

    Many communities have “Spot Beautification” or “Adopt a Spot” road programs where goups volunteer to keep intersection islands, corner green areas, etc clean and planted. It's volunteer work because the city provides no supplies, only a sign thanking and identifying the group who volunteers time and supplies to take on these tasks. If your city doesn't have the program (which it seems they don't) lobby to get the program started. Good luck trying to right this wrong!

  59. Jenny Pape says:

    This is crazy! My neighbors have untidy, unsightly front AND back yards and they ARE NOT being taxed! This beautiful garden has no business being taxed!

    NO to a Garden Tax here in Warrenville.

  60. NHGarden says:

    What a shame. I would think you should be thanked by the city. Certainly there must be more important issues for them to be worried about than beautiful gardens taking over the city. Hopefully they will not go through with taxing you.

  61. Shawna,
    Those of us who live in the area will go with you to the next city council meeting. If we show up in force, maybe they will see the error of their ways. Do you have a date?

  62. Deb says:

    I can think of one city where I'll never spend any money….. this is ridiculous. They should be PAYING you for doing their job.

  63. joene says:

    After reading your post, Shawna, my first reaction is this is a ridiculous tax and a waste of time for all involved.
    However, if the city were to impose a tax on any type of garden, including grass, rock, mailbox, and the like, it must be done city-wide. To single out a few is clearly discriminatory. It is insane to single out those who have done the most to beautify easement areas. If it does not cost the city anything to have plantings on these easements, and private persons are seeing to the upkeep then why tax?
    From what I've read this tax makes absolutely no sense.

  64. Shawna, certainly the local media should be aware of this. On top of that, photos of other right-of-ways – possibly those maintained by the city – that do not comply with the new regulations should be pointed out with specific addresses so the apparent singling out of a few can be clearly revealed. Hang in there, girl! cherie colburn (www.CherieColburn.com)

  65. Thank you! Thank you! for all your help!!!

    And no, I do not have a date to go back in to the city. When I read my statement to them they all sat there with absolutely no response at all and didn't tell me what I do next. So I do not know.

    Shawna

  66. Anonymous says:

    This is crazy and a waste of money for the City of Warrenville. Can the city officials find something more productive to do with their money then to go look for a “garden” to tax? How about raising money for the school, fixing roads, or anything else more constructive with their time and resources.

  67. Judy says:

    I am appalled that your city does not ENCOURAGE the maintenance of such a lovely strip of healthy plants. Shame on them!

  68. Anonymous says:

    I'm facing county problems up here in Washington. It amazes me how the county can target the good and think that is OK. I got a 1,048 dollar fine for a sandwich board saying where my business is located. You should be awarded. If the need to make money go fine dumpy yards and get them cleaning up. The county sill make more money attracting people to your city with it look pretty rather than weedy and trash filled.
    Good luck don't give up.

  69. John Rendos says:

    This is absurd! This garden is beautiful. What harm is it doing? Absolutely none. The city has no right to tax something that they don't even maintain, especially something that is so beautiful and causing no harm. Shawna is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She constantly gives to others and shares everything in this garden. She has given me fresh vegetables on many occasions. There is no point in taxing someone for planting flowers and plants in a garden, especially one that is so beautiful. I know from experience that random people walking by will stop by and tell Shawna how gorgeous the garden is. This tax is ridiculous and must not be carried out. It makes no sense whatsoever. If anything, the city should be paying Shawna for having such a beautiful garden representing Warrenville. If there's anything else I can do, let me know.

  70. I wish I was your neighbor! This is a wonderful garden. I agree with others who say that the city should be ashamed of themselves. Hmmm, I wonder if they have any noxious weeds in any of the parks or public lands that according to ordinance (most likely) should be eradicated from all property. How stupid. and, hypocritical of the city. This should be up for a Darwin award!

  71. Anonymous says:

    A “garden tax” is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. As many of the other comments say most cities want residents to help beautify the community. Even though it's an easement you pay property tax on it. And to have them go behind your back to an organization you volunteer with!!! Warrenville needs to spent it's time on more important issues.

  72. Tammy Curry says:

    Having driven through nearby Naperville, the south suburbs of Chicago and been to Chicago itself I can only say that I am appalled that they want to make it harder to make these places beautiful.

    It is discouraging to gardeners everywhere if they have to pay a tax to plant beautiful gardens. When cities should be encouraging this behavior.

  73. This is ridiculous! I'll be sharing your story with everyone I can.

  74. Anonymous says:

    Shouldn't they send the tax payers money more wisely? What they spent in that one persons salary to notify her about the garden would pay the cost of the “fees” they want to assess her with. What a shame that something so beautiful can't just be enjoyed by all.

  75. Anonymous says:

    It is so sad that towns/cities do things like this. Prehaps they should look at cutting some of their 'perks' provided to them & take the time to smell the roses. Perhaps then when they rid themselves of greed they can see the beauty.

  76. weeder1 says:

    How silly and sad and totally ridiculous of your local government folks.What you have done is beautiful. What they have done is waste a LOT of money and time on something they should be lauding. There are certainly more pressing problems in your town than beauty?
    Good luck!

  77. Caroline says:

    City bureaucrats nationwide have lost their damn minds. Google “gardens under attack” and be amazed. Stewards of schoolyard gardens in Berkeley, community gardens in LA, front yard vegetable gardens in Michigan (Julie Bass) and Memphis (Adam Guerrero) and certified wildlife habitats in Austin, TX have been harassed and shamed, their gardens criminalized and in some cases cut down by city “code enforcement.” In several cases the actions of the city were triggered by a single anonymous complaint from the neighborhood Gladys Kravitz. Your case is the first I've heard of a city, seemingly desperate for funds, attempting to target and levy taxes on specific gardeners. I wish you well as you fight the good fight.

  78. I have gardened and landscaped the easements near every home I have owned. The only thing I ever recieved were compliments and smiles. This does sound like retaliation to me! Which you never even accused them of..maybe you should!

  79. This is an unfortunate example of ignorance and short sightedness overwhelming common sense and opportunity. Rather than a tax fee, citizens should be given a tax exemption for maintaining these easements. The money involved for the city enforcing the zoning for “offenders” is certainly no more than it would be for policing gardens to ensure they’re well kept.
    Allowing, even encouraging, citizens to garden in easements lowers cots to municipalities. It means the citizens are maintaining the property, it adds value to a neighborhood, eventually increasing property values, which raises tax revenues for the municipality. It also creates GOODWILL.
    A municipal government that promotes community involvement should not be the exception, it should be the rule.

    My husband is fond of the saying “small minds make small decisions”.

    Linda Kurzmiller, owner
    Mid Atlantic Native Plants

  80. Genevieve says:

    I am disgusted and saddened by this lack of common sense on the part of your elected officials. I think your local media should get involved and help the Council know that this is a completely unacceptable use of their power. There should not EVER be a gardening tax, and certainly not one that is applied so unevenly.

    I serve on my own city's Design Review Commission and can tell you that every member is delighted when we see people cleaning up weedy eyesores and planting gardens. This is a GOOD thing for which you should not be persecuting anyone.

  81. Bridget Staley says:

    I can't imagine how you must feel, when some cities have programs to beautify the areas, your town opts to punish those like you who take the time and effort and $ to give eye candy in the alley. You could go back to read the minutes of those counsel meetings when they passed that ordinance to see who said what and go look at their property,(they probably live in an apartment). I am spreading the word about this injustice, and you can believe Facebook and other media will have this on the National News in a very short time. We will help you “shame” your city counsel into taking that stupid ordinance off the books. You go girl !!!!!

  82. Linda Chryle says:

    When I go walking, I try to go past your garden (ask my family), even in the winter because of the spirit of generosity in what you have created. Perhaps the city should pay you for having created a place of community, with all those who have contributed plants and the toil of the soil… it does my heart good! (repeat from fb)

  83. What utter nonsense. Unless you already knew that by planting such a garden you would be subject to this tax and did it anyway, I can't see how they can make this stick. What is the basis for this taxation? What representation are you receiving by paying such a tax? This stinks to high heavens. Shame on them!!

  84. Ginger says:

    Shawna, You stated your case politely and logically. That must have been difficult under the circumstances. Congratulation on that, to start. I sincerely hope the city officials will find it wise to reconsider.

  85. Amy says:

    It is ridiculous!!!! You should not have to pay on tax on the beautiful garden that you have created!

  86. Anonymous says:

    YES there should be a tax. The owner should be taxing all who enjoy it's beauty and spleandor as it enriches all. This is a ridiculous and sad attempt to deal with a very real problem. Come on Warrenville, pull your head out of the sand!

  87. hine57 says:

    Send this to every media/television company. This should be investigated and they should be humiliated.

  88. Vicki says:

    Let's see: YOU are being charged a fee for what comes down to Public Beautification? The city should be paying you! Council of Warrenville: Do the right thing, give these pockets of beautification what they deserve: a citation recognizing their effort. That's what most communities with common sense do. The gardeners should be thanked for doing something the city should be doing in the first place.

  89. Karyn says:

    Dear City,
    I would think it may be hard to sleep at night knowing you are taxing people in the community that actually care about the community. Have you stopped to think of how ridiculous this is at any point, or is the plan to just to use the political powers to “legally bully” someone? Any logical person would see that this young lady, as well as any others that are maintaining and beautifying the city without asking for a return is an asset to have in the community. This person is not asking for the city to maintain the area, nor incur the expense it takes to produce/maintain such a beautiful area. Would you rather weeds or litter? If so then city needs to tend to the weeds with weed killer, or man power to pull them up. Does that not cost more to accomplish than allowing for positive community members? I am sure the city can find better use of their time, or is it just that? It is easier to sit behind a desk and threaten fines? I would side with the city if it were filled with weeds, rats, litter, but this time … shame on you city council. When is the next voting period. This certainly should be a topic prior to receiving your next vote.

  90. Anonymous says:

    On the easement…is this the access easement to the city for fire, electric, cable, and so on and has your garden caused a problem for them to get their trucks through? I planted a garden near the easement and was told I must keep the easement open. I don't agree with the tax…I think the city should just ask you to reduce the size if it's a problem in an emergency. It is a beautiful garden and i can tell how much work you have put into it…but if my power goes out and the only way the power company can get to my pole to fix the problem is through your garden…

  91. Anonymous says:

    Dear Shawna,
    I am all the way up in Maine, but as a fellow gardener, I am outraged and will be writing your council in support of you. Not only is the tax offensive, but the fact that the council worker went to the non-profit you are a member of and tried to make you look like a criminal is so inappropriate and crosses the line is so many ways. I encourage you to keep up your campaign and contact your local media sources in order to get the word out there. The city has passed an ordinance that harms itself and others and it needs to be repealed. As a real estate agent, knowing about this ordinance, I would warn clients from choosing to live in Warrensville because it is has an unjust council and who knows what they will do next. They have fully succeeded in alienating new homeowners to whom gardening and basic rights are important. It's a good thing I'm not an agent in your area, or I'd be actively protecting people from moving there.

  92. Garden Shed says:

    I heard about this on the news. It was really a ridiculous idea. The garden help beautify the community and you want to tax the people by having them. This bill is heart breaking.

  93. Anonymous says:

    That is amazing that a city can get away with that, keep fighting the fight!!!

  94. Shawna, I'm not sure if you remember me but we met at the GWA in Dallas a year or two ago.

    I am so sorry for what has happened and know I would be in tears also. You prepared an excellent text for the meeting – well done.

    Those before me have added my voice to the council far more eloquently than I could but consider me one more frustrated homeowner who is amazed at such short shortsightedness.

    I'll post this on my FB page for you – please be sure to keep us all updated. Hugs!

  95. Diane says:

    I don't understand the city's reasons for regulating easement plantings in the first place. Trees, yes, but garden plants? I'm sure that the money spent on building and maintaining that garden, money that goes back into local communities, far exceeds the fee they're trying to collect. And, I'm sure that every person who passes by gets joy and even inspiration to try their own gardening.

    I'm puzzled by Warrenville's decision to change the ordinance, especially when it's clear that they had particular sites targeted. What goal is the ordinance trying to accomplish, that they think billing these homes some extra money will solve? I think the ordinance discourages positive actions in the community and does not suit the character of the city.
    Diane McCarthy
    Chicago IL

  96. SHAME on you, Warrenville, for taking this opportunity to educate, beautify, and even feed your citizens, and turning it into an ugly punishment, as if a garden is something to be ashamed of. Please turn this around, and use it as an opportunity for good, by allowing the citizens of your town to use these easements for gardens, without being taxed for the effort.

  97. juie says:

    Did you see how Warrenville is trying to be part of the cool cities project? Them they can't be cool when they do pitiful scams like this. Gardens help environmental impact, which that project is about. They should be encouraging gardeners, not penalizing them. Apparently they want a city of dirt plots.

  98. Jenette says:

    This fee was not well thought out. Rebates should be given to improvements made in these areas not fees. Unless the city is planning on paying the home owner for materials and labor there should not be a fee to providing a maintained improvement to the city.

  99. LilBlossom says:

    E-mail sent to the mayor! I lived in Warrenville back in 2007, and loved it there. Also, it's great to have found a local blog so I can get ideas for plants that grow well in my neighbourhood! Thank you and good luck!

  100. Feral Man says:

    I hate stories like this. Why do those in power think that the people elected them to impose their taxes?

  101. Denny Schrock says:

    This is an absurd move by Warrenville city government. The city should be encouraging community development by SUBSIDIZING this type of activity rather than levying fees on it. Anyone in their right mind should be able to discern that a well-maintained, beautiful garden is a vast improvement over an unlandscaped strip of land, or worse yet, a trash-filled eyesore.

  102. Warrenville's actions are completely backwards. Near where I live, there's an extra tax on hotel rooms that generates a beautification fund to plant gardens just like this. Why would the council discourage people for doing something right? Give Shawna a gold medal of appreciation, not a bill!

  103. Joyce Pinson says:

    Really? A garden tax? Planting posies around your mailbox so we'll tax you? Shawna, I live out in the country where we do what we want…but my goodness your urban spirit inspires me and I often think how fortunate your town is to have someone who actually CARES. A garden tax is WRONG.

  104. The city certainly makes this sound simple–either pay or remove the garden. This would make me angry enough to do something irrational so self control is necessary. Out of spite I would remove the garden.
    This is not Shawna's way.
    I am going to be in touch with your city council so that they see that Ohio is watching them and sitting in judgment. I suspect that they will be so shamed that they will have to rescind this ordinance. Meanwhile, the agony they have brought to Shawna, as well as the other 5 gardeners, will never be made right. I just so hope the the nationwide publicity gives them a nasty sting. I believe this group deserves the public's spite.

  105. hort'curious says:

    I am at a loss for words Shawna. A tax on a garden? I have never heard of such a thing. Of course I support all your efforts to get this tax waived and will share with all on my social media network

  106. liz webb says:

    Taxing something so beautiful? Really, Warrenville!!! We are proud of our gardens.
    If you need the money that bad, look somewhere else!

  107. Kate says:

    I think this “tax” is very discriminatory and wrong. This ordinance, or whatever they want to call it, is going to discourage people to garden. And I think that is horrible. I've known Shawna for years now and what she has done for the community is amazing. She is not only beautifying that area, but she giving back to the community. I am very disappointed in the City of Warrenville. Shame on you! NO TO A GARDEN TAX!!

  108. …so let me get this straight.
    -you're taking care of what is basically a patch of dirt,weeds and have created a beautiful garden for all passers-by to enjoy while beautifying that area behind your home.
    -this is done at your own expense and on your own time.
    -this garden is not visible from your home so it truly is for the enjoyment of others in your community.
    What could possibly be wrong with this???

    In a time when everyone is calling for others to care for the environment, be “green”, conserve, the city wants to punish someone for doing this? I've seen a lot of dumb ideas over the years, but this so-called “initiative” from the Warrenville powers-that-be, is hands down, if not the worst, one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard or seen. What is wrong with you people? You should be partnering with folks like Mrs. Coronado rather than trying to dominate, control and basically punish the citizens of your community for doing something good for it.
    I seriously hope you City Council folks not just reconsider, but change & eliminate this mind-numbingly stupid idea. In fact, to mayor David L. Brummel, I DARE YOU to prove to me and citizens all over your neighboring communities, states & what I'm sure by now is a world-wide audience, that the good citizens of Warrenville IL, are led by an intelligent group of members, capable of making decisions that are not only good for your community, but that are also reasonable, fair and encourage them to work with the city for the benefit of all, and not the dollar-seeking, moronic idiots this “initiative” portrays you all to be.
    If this sounds harsh to you, well it IS harsh. Take action Brummel. Do do the right thing and I DARE YOU to prove me wrong.
    -Mario Salazar

  109. Anonymous says:

    This person should receive a tax cut for donating their time to your city.

  110. Matt says:

    I'd love to see what you're fighting for sweep the nation. This should be encouraged, not discouraged with a tax. Let's make our neighborhoods more beautiful and give back to nature.

  111. tg says:

    I completely support Shawna's efforts to have this “tax” either policed and applied in a non-discriminatory manner, or better yet, repealed entirely. She has spent considerable time and effort improving property that would otherwise lie fallow and do absolutely nothing for property values.

  112. Anonymous says:

    Here is a what I wrote to everyone on the council:
    Dear Council Members,
    I am a Real Estate Agent in Maine, you are lucky I do not live in your area. This is what I would tell my clients if they were considering moving to your backwards city: “Don't move to Warrenville, as your agent I feel obligated to tell you that this city passes unfair taxes and then uses completely unacceptable means to try and enforce those taxes by showing up at non-profits you belong to and make you look like a criminal. If you like to garden, or if you want to live in a city that is pleasing to the eye, or if you simply believe in fair taxation, don't move to Warrenville.” I feel like it is my fiduciary duty to protect my clients from an unjust city like yours.

    This is just one example of how your garden tax hurts your city. Not only does it seem like you are waging war on your citizens, it seems like you are waging war on the city itself. Why would you not ENCOURAGE people to garden? It increases property value and attracts new homeowners. Just from a financial and urban planning perspective this ordinance is counterproductive an detrimental to the progress and growth of your city. Congratulations, you have succeeded in alienating new home owners and making yourselves look like a bunch of ignorant fools.

    Sincerely,
    An agent you are lucky lives in another state

  113. Anonymous says:

    All I have to say to the town is: What are you all thinking???? This is a RESPONSIBLE beautification of an area for others to enjoy, you are not providing or spending tax dollars to care for it, so how can you justify placing a tax on it, as well as the 5 other property's. Are you going to then tax blighted property's too???? This is utterly absurd and instead of going after people that have improved these areas at (may I remind you)no expense to the town, you should be spending your communities tax dollars in a more productive manner.

  114. First off, I can't believe the amount of money the city would make on this fee would even cover the cost in manpower and paperwork it took to set up the new code and process the paperwork…utterly ridiculous. The fact that they are, in essence, penalizing you for doing something both positive and beneficial for the community is just plain wrong. Good luck to you…this is sheer insanity…and evidence of a government out of touch with reality.

  115. Kelly says:

    This is horrific! How can this garden do anything but beautify your area? This is what cities are supposed to invest in, not charge for! Sounds like a made up reason to make money because they're sucking wind. Shame on them!

  116. OK, I sent an email and copied you. Unbelievable.

  117. Anonymous says:

    Start a petition on change.org, looks like you can get a lot of signatures

  118. Anonymous says:

    The city charges you for doing good deeds…..wow, that's encouraging.

  119. Theresa says:

    Yep – They are obviously looking for money and I think you and the others are the first test case. What a joke! They should be paying YOU for making an eyesore an enjoyment to the community. Keep us posted on Shawna. I think we need to stir up a firestorm on this one.

  120. magreen says:

    I hope you're getting your local media involved. It will have a much bigger impact and will shame the council for even considering something so ridiculous!

  121. Allison Ruby says:

    I am in full support of you and will do what I can to spread the word. I hope you have also started a petition – a local one as well as a national one. Meanwhile, I wrote the mayor's office and did post on social media sites. Wishing you all the best in this, and thank you for your care and efforts in beautifying your community and sharing the benefits of gardening.
    - Allison Ruby, Minneapolis, MN

  122. Gary says:

    I think it's time that the current city council get voted out. They are non responsive, seem to think the citizens are there to serve the council, and come up with these arbitrary ordinances all to essentially punish the citizens attempting to beautify their homes and properties.

    We've been trying to contact our rep for weeks (on a different issue) and have never gotten so much as an acknowledgement let alone an actual answer.

  123. Anonymous says:

    I'd talk to an attorney and definitely the media. This sounds like coercion. “You will sign?” Not until my attorney reviews it would be my answer.

  124. Anonymous says:

    I just wonder how long it'll be before they tax what's behind the fence? There are so many areas that could be improved and beautified by citizens taking the initiative to do what you are doing. You are absolutely right, it makes no sense whatsoever to discourage this. They are shooting themselves in the foot.

  125. Anonymous says:

    That is so wrong! This is a free country and we're allowed to grow anything we want! It's your property, which they already tax! Your garden isn't costing them anything! It's only helping them have a prettier, more oxygen rich world. You should stand up against this blatant misuse of power. You and everyone else. (((hugs)))

  126. Anonymous says:

    There is nothing like the beauty of a garden for all to admire. Your efforts to maintain this beatiful area should be rewarded not taxed or fined!I suppose the city would rather have dead grass and an area that would collect trash instead? Know that I support you and your other fellow gardeners on this ridiculous issue that the city has impossed on you all!

  127. Sarah says:

    They should be paying you for helping to make the town beautiful. This is a joke. It's a shame that without this much support you would be forced to pay. Let's make things right for Shawna and others who want to garden.

    -Sarah

  128. Anonymous says:

    Wow!!! I grew up in Warrenville and lived there also from 2000 to 2010. I know right where your garden is, and this is absolutely shameful behavior. Warrenville is just not the community it once was. Especially under Mayors Lund and Stafford. You know Viviam would have NEVER allowed this. Damn shame.

  129. Allen Reed says:

    The only solution I see is to elect council members who understand how important city beautification is to the overall value of a community. This council has done an excellent job of being fiscally responsible, but that's its only focus. City beautification could be a part of that, but, with this ordinance, it is not even tolerated but discouraged. How sad.

  130. You are such a gift and inspiration to wherever you are! The city should be paying you for all the positive work that you do! I support you whole-heartedly and love your commitment to improving community. We all learn from you!

  131. Tina says:

    Relocate plants + let weeds take over = no tax? Absurd!

  132. Keep fighting, Shawna! This is ridiculous and is NOT the way to treat citizens who are contributing to their community. A pox on them!

  133. Prepare for more of this as municipalities turn up the heat to pay for their programs, like taxing people's gardens. You should receive an award from The City of Chicago for beautification. Mindless bureaucrats.

  134. Laura says:

    I live down in Florida and I was stunned to read this story. Your city should be proud to showcase this garden, as it increases property values and fosters a healthy sense of community within the neighborhood! To tax a gardener for beautifying a strip of land such as this is The Most Backward Line of Thinking i've ever encountered. And I've decided to share the story with our local news media as well. Your city should be encouraging this type of thing, not taxing the people for it!

  135. Absolutely backwards what that city is doing. The internet is here for you Shawna, I'm going to send an email and blast my social media about this. I can't believe this would happen!

  136. Lisa Manning says:

    I am totally with you Shawna! Taxing a citizen for doing the city's job is robbery and absolutely ridiculous!

  137. DS Lambe says:

    I so support these easement gardens. She is willing to do this ON HER OWN DIME, with her OWN TIME. Her actions not only beautified her area, but also inspired others to do the same, and got others involved. I cannot comprehend why the local gov't would take the energy to harass this woman and her work…

  138. Anna Harrington says:

    Completely against a “garden tax”. It's illegal and immoral. Ridiculous attempt to drum up funds.

  139. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you 100%. As long as you agree to work within guidelines they create as you are willing to do that should be enough. Gardens beautify and enrich our environment in so many ways. To tax citizens who wish to put in the time, effort and money to do this is wrong. It will cost the city more financially than they will gain, and the reputation of your town will suffer. I am also not in favor of 'green space' – ie just grass – instead of gardens. There is nothing attractive or inviting that you don't see in every community now.
    Mary Ann

  140. Cece says:

    This is outrageous. Here we pay taxes on the easement property and have to maintain i.e. mow it. Should be charging them a fee for the work you've done and for maintaining it.

    I have never heard of such a thing. They'll tax anything now days. Money hungry greedy…………..

  141. Absolutely ridiculous! I sign this proudly! Also sharing! Keep up the fight!

  142. City of Warrenville,
    This is one of the stupidest laws I have ever seen. No one should be punished for enriching their lives, beautifying their neighborhood, and doing a great service to the environment. The work she has been doing is beautiful and commendable, and your backdoor politics are criminal.

  143. Christiane says:

    Ludicrous! The city should send you a certificate of appreciation for your free gardening/landscaping! It seems like a no-brainer.

    Christiane

  144. Anonymous says:

    What is the logic? Civic beautification is usually appreciated and applauded. We beg people to take care of their property and adopt public spots to beautify for the enjoyment of our citizens. What a waste of time and money for the taxpayers! This is extreme job justification. Leave the gardens-they relieve stress, speed recovery from illness, provide a quite place for reflection and meditation, lift the spirit at the end of a long day, and provide a creative outlet. Can the same be said of your elected officials? Elect new ones with vision and common sense. Bad leadership Warrenville-Bad decision.

  145. Cities are hypocritical about easements–they won't do a damn thing to maintain them but will punish homeowners if they do! I had a similar incident (though without taxes) and I was hopping mad–a similar situation where I did a lot of work in removing invasives (which the city would never do) and then got in trouble for, essentially, trespassing. Usually the concern is if the plants are too high to obscure sight when people in cars are making turns or coming out of the driveway, but your garden does not look like this is the case at all. In which case the whole thing is just ridiculous and unfair.

  146. Lori McGuire says:

    Taxing people who are using their own funds to plant on their property which adds beauty to a town is WRONG.
    Tax people whose property is an eye sore,full of garbage, and decreases the value of a town seem CORRECT.

  147. Jess1127 says:

    Ridiculous! Your beautiful gardens have enriched the life of so many. Warrenville should be ASHAMED! You should be charging them for displyaing your beautiful work. Best wishes.

  148. Bednar flock says:

    This just shows that small local governments have little to do? Why not focus on more pressing issues or encourage more of this beautification in the community. With grass you have much more upkeep. In addition if the council made this ordnance after the fact there should be a grandfathering in my mind….Just sold a house b/c of the local government and will never live where there are associations again.

  149. Carolyn says:

    How ridiculous! I can't imagine how they can legally single out your garden (and the 5 others) while ignoring the rest of the “offenders”. From reading more about your garden, you indicated how you actually asked permission before beginning this project. How dare they come back now to slap your hand! Why don't they apply a tax to people who DON'T plant their easements? Or, to people who plant grass, requring high water and chemical inputs to stay nice, while contributing to runoff and contaminaton of nearby water sources.

  150. Shawna, try starting a petition at Change.org . It's free!

  151. Anonymous says:

    Shawna, I am sending this to the council with my name included there.

    Dear Warrenville Council members:

    I am writing in regard to your regulations and tax on easement gardens, especially Shawna Coronado's. I am saddened and shocked that a town would not only punish a citizen for improving the community surroundings at their own expense, but also hurt the community in the process by discouraging such behavior and negatively affecting the image of this community.

    I live in Chicago where we are required to take care of parkway property, and at any time the city could do work that digs up entire gardens without notice. But I have never heard of a tax on planting there. (And I think we know Chicago is good at finding ways to incur costly fees and fines). It is counterproductive to discourage beautification and greening of cities and towns.

    I have been looking to buy a home out that way near my family in Kane County. I can tell you now that your town is no longer on my list until this law changes.

    And of course passing this law without input or notice, and singling out a handful of residents at that, is unfair and surely illegal. I am perhaps most outraged at hearing that a government employee went to a community group to attempt to get citizens to help “police” another citizen and fellow member behind her back. This sort of strongarm government compliance by attempting to turn citizen against citizen is a common trick in countries with which we in the West do not share values.

    I urge you to see this garden and those like it as benefits to Warrenville that you are lucky to get at no cost, and that save you on maintenance expenses and labor. Also, being green is a big plus now in the real estate market for individuals and companies. Beyond the obvious curb appeal bump of gardens, that image too can help with sales. And it has its own benefits of course in saving on water, avoiding chemical use, and increasing pollinator populations. And feeding folks when the gardens are edible. I understand Shawna even contributes some of her harvest to Warrenville.

    Your interests and your fellow Warrenville resdients' interests are intertwined. So, in short, why shoot yourself in the foot?

  152. Anonymous says:

    How very small minded! Your council will be the laughing stock of the world!
    From New Zealand.

  153. Rick Weidman says:

    I'm still at a loss as to the logic and reasoning of implementing a tax like this. Is there precedence for this type of tax somewhere else in the US?? I would love to have been present when they discussed/debated this. I would find out who voted for this tax and make sure that the entire community knows about it and makes surethose individuals are not voted back into office.

  154. Unfortunately, anti-vegetative bylaws exist all over N. America. In Ontario, Canada, the City of Toronto is looking at recouping fees for Natural Garden Exemptions. (http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2012.LS11.5).

    Our local weed bylaw has been struck down twice in a higher court (provincial court) for violating “Freedom of Expression” under our Charter of Rights & Freedoms. One case involved a front yard easement/boulevard swale. But the City still persists in pursuing gardeners.

    The Local Scoop has written about the “Weed Wars” and our right to garden as we please. (http://thelocalscoop.org/scoop/articles/2010_04_2.php)

  155. Unknown says:

    Our forefathers would shit themselves if they could see how bad we've screwed up their dream.
    I can understand paying some taxes like paying union dues for being an American to fund the military, teachers etc.
    But your dollar gets taxed multiple times before it gets to you.
    Businesses in California have to pay taxes on the property, the building and the contents. As well as taxes on sales and match the income tax the employees pay (and god knows what eld) and that is why a majority of small businesses fail and conglomerates gleefully stomp out the competition.
    Where is it going? Into the pockets of millionaires and teenage mothers. Government officials and workers get paid exceptional to insane amounts of money with excellent health coverage while the middle class carries they weight of the upper class and the lower class; barely able to pay their own bills (while having their homes foreclosed on so the banks can get bailed out).
    So after all this bull crap they're going to come in and tax your freaking garden!? Your zen escape from the stresses of life is now going to be taxed!? Are you kidding me? We seriously need to riot in front of the white house because this shit is out of control.

  156. Estelle Wright says:

    How and why would you you tax flowers? That's just nonsence

  157. Kyoki says:

    Um. So, someone commented about “What is this, North Korea?” and that made me curious. Turns out that one of the most oppressive governments in the world still TOTALLY allows private citizens to grow gardens for food and pleasure.

    Go figure.

    Chew on that for a few minutes, City Council.

  158. julie bass says:

    oh, city government- are you kidding? please tax behaviors that are undesirable and encourage things that you want more of- like beautiful gardens and concerned citizens who use their time and resources to help the city and keep property values high. i'm sure the city would be better served in a million other ways besides taxing gardens. please say this is an early april fool's joke…

  159. Deborah Dale says:

    The City seems a tad confused…these types of gardens should certainly be singled out, but they deserve to be given awards not taxed.

    Native species of plants, birds, insects have been put at risk by the lawn craze of the past 60 years. Lush gardens of native species like yours can help to replace some of the habitat lost to development and to the nations largest crop…lawn. Thank you for your efforts to undo some of the damage.

    Please consider submitting your efforts to the North American Native Plant Society's annual garden award. details at:
    http://www.nanps.org/index.php/about-us/awards/gardenrestoration-award/7-awards

  160. sheila schultz says:

    I would hope your council will rethink their decision for the garden tax. Anyone who beautifies and cares for the barren areas surrounding their home on their own dime should be praised… not charged. Just think how beautiful Warrenville would be if more homeowners followed Shawna's lead! Admit it, this was not one of your better decisions!

  161. Tanya says:

    You have my support, Shawna! From a fellow gardener in Canada.

  162. dub rutledge says:

    I could not believe my eyes when i saw this posted on the internet that you are singling out or even attempting to tax someone that has helped so much in our town to beautify the community and help the environment. If Mayor Lund were still in office this would not even be a subject. Dave, I have known you for year had uphold and have supported you throughout the years as Mayor so I am asking you to make the right choice. Have some common sense about this situation. The city of Warrenville and it's beauty has grown 10 fold since Shawna as been involved in the gardening programs and the annual garden walks and other public events that she has been involved in.

    If you are in fact going to impose this ordinance then you need to impose it to ALL. I remember when Mayor Lund first put in the perennial garden along River Rd at the Cerney ballpark. It was so nice taking the kids there and showing them how to plant a garden and how it made the community beautiful to be in. Are you taxing them now too?

    Think long and hard about this ruling because you are entering a dark alley of unknown and could inevitably loose a lot of supporters and a public out cry of the community.

  163. Anonymous says:

    This is monstrous. NO GARDEN TAX EVER – ANYWHERE. Shame on the City of Warrenville for their submitting to someone's bad idea of how to make more money off their already taxed citizenry. Shawna's gardens are beautiful and a clear benefit to any community, how dare they discourage her and DISCRIMINATE against her and the other five homeowners “singled out” for this ridiculous licensing and fee-paying. Shame, shame, shame. This stupid ordinance must be amended to be fair to all or repealed in its entirety.

  164. Anonymous says:

    City code for Warrenville, Part 7-2-2, Section E-1 pertains to decorative mail boxes. This was enacted AFTER the city tried to fine certain individuals for having something other than “standard” yet standard was never defined. The city then enacted this ordinance and grandfathered in any existing mailboxes.

    The exact text is “1 Permit Requirements: No new ornamental mailbox installations shall be constructed in the right of way after March 31, 2009 until the required revocable right of way permit and covenant agreement and a building permit has been applied for by the adjacent property owner and issued by the city of Warrenville community development department.”

    I mention this as I heard the mailbox people, fought the proposed fees/fines as they built BEFORE anything had been enacted and as a result the city put in a grandfather clause. If they passed the ordinance (also in section 7-2-2) about your garden and did not offer a grandfather clause that alone might be ground for fighting it on the basis of unequal application of justice.

  165. Allie says:

    Have you checked out petition sites such as change.org?

    By the way, I totally support you and found this via a link on FB.

    Allie in Lake Stevens, WA

  166. Neal Klabunde says:

    I'm sorry, but I fail to see the logic in this tax. Shawna should be receiving a proclamation from the city applauding her efforts to beautify your community.

    What sick. twisted logic was even behind this measure?

    Also, singling out residents for enforcement of this ridiculous law? Come on guys, this is America, please remember that.

  167. I think you should bill your city for the time you have spent maintaining the property they would have otherwise had to pay a city employee to maintain. While you're at it, send them a bill for the seeds I'm sure YOU paid to put there… and for any water you've paid for to keep it up. See how they like THEM apples. Stupid governments. BTW, this is me, saying I'm in full support of you. :)

  168. Anonymous says:

    Appalling.

  169. Claire says:

    Although I sense there may be a bit more to this than meets the eye (payback for a complaint, perhaps?), I remain totally dismayed, appalled, and horrified. In a time when so many communities depend on volunteers to help clean and maintain highways, byways, and easements; our nation is so deeply concerned with becoming more “green” for all sorts of well-founded reasons; and families are struggling to make ends meet and hang-on to some sort of value in their properties, this debacle makes neither practical nor PR sense. In the end, I doubt it even makes much financial sense. And, it certainly seems to smack of some sort of weird prejudice. Warrenville should be giving citizens a tax break for personal time, effort and money spent to help beautify and naturalize an area, not punish people. Talk about a sure way to devaluate real estate! I'd be ashamed for voting-in such a backwards, scandalous piece of legislation. Members of the Warrenville City Council should be wearing bags over their heads in shame. Contact local media…? I'd say so. In fact, this story is ludicrous enough to make it to the national news. I hope it does. This is a challenge-worthy injustice.

  170. Fenn says:

    I don't understand all of the outrage. You planted something on land you do not own and are now angry because you are being charged for doing so? This is not a “garden tax”. This is a tax for gardening on city property. It sounds completely reasonable to me.

  171. Anonymous says:

    When are people going to stand up to Government ? enough is enough..before you know it you will send your entire pay check to state/federal…SPEAK UP!

  172. Scott (CA) says:

    What I wrote to the city council on your behalf.

    What you all are doing is taxation without notice, representation or discussion. Shame on you, the founding fathers did not write the Constitution to empower such frivolous, ridiculous behavior. Repeal this tax now.

  173. Carol says:

    Good luck in your fight and we stand behind you to beat this tax.

  174. Anonymous says:

    Your city has made me sick to my stomach. Sounds like the council should be recalled for simply being “Un-American”, unjust, and lacking any common sense. Is this what leaders of the community should be spending time on? They should be so ashamed that they resign those positions. How could they possibly show their face at another public meeting after this kind of behavior? Of course, now after being found out, they will probably make a statement saying “We didn't intend this code to affect our citizens in the manner it did and it was improperly enforced by code enforcers. We will take steps to remedy this for our citizens, because we really care. Oh, and want to get re-elected” ha ha.

  175. @Fenn -

    In response to your point about it being reasonable.

    I do not think it is reasonable to single out individual citizens based on race, sex, or size of their gardens to have to pay a ordinance fee for easement property when no one else in the city is being asked to pay that fee on similar landscaped property.

    It is MORE than the fee. It is about the discrimination against an individual.

    I also believe that this issue should be opened so more people can have access to a garden that does not cost them money.

    Thank you,

    Shawna

  176. I'd also like to point out that before Shawna created the garden initially she did call the town and ask for permission to use the space.

  177. Unknown says:

    This is not right. I hope you get a positive vote

  178. Anonymous says:

    This is so wrong. They should all be voted out of office. Stupidity at work.

  179. Anonymous says:

    “Nice” email sent to the Council…

  180. Anonymous says:

    Email to the Council;

    Congratulations,

    You, (the Council) have succeeded in the first step to make a name for yourselves! Albeit, not the kind of name I would like to be called…

    Please do not patronize me with political BS, I am a former Councilman, I know the drill. If things are that tight cut your own salaries, or better yet, impose a fine (tax) on the lazy homeowners who do not tend to their yards and gardens!

    I'm looking forward to seeing this case on the six o'clock news!

    Sincerely,

  181. Anonymous says:

    The words “discrimination” and “taxation without representation” come to mind.

  182. Anonymous says:

    You have planted a beautiful garden! However, to say that the city of Warrenville is taxing it seems unfair. According to their website, they do have a $35 right-of-way fee. That covers inspection and, perhaps most importantly, indemnifies the city in case of a lawsuit pertaining to the garden. I can't imagine that anyone would sue over a garden. Actually, in our litigious society, I can. I think the fee to place a garden on city property is reasonable.

  183. Dan H says:

    This is just more indication of the wrong path that our country is taking. Taxing something like this garden should be criminal and the council members responsible for it should be tarred and feathered, then run out of town for such an absurdity.

    You have my total support. The council should be encouraging more people to grow gardens like yours to help beautify the community and help feed the hungry.

    Keep up the good work.

  184. Anonymous says:

    Seriously? I don't even know what to say. The city would be smarter to plant more gardens that provide something useful to society rather than spending time/energy/money on taxing and fining a garden that is natural and good.

  185. garden girl says:

    Wow Warrenville! Whoever dreamed up this tax must have lost their minds. This is outrageous. Boo, hiss.

    Shame on you Warrenville.

  186. Anonymous says:

    I don't know what to say that is not rude…. this is simply WRONG!
    Government needs to keep their slimy hands out of our lives!

  187. City of Warrenville are you giving her a tax break since she is beautifying the neighborhood? What about subsidies to her for talking care of the garden herself – surely she is entitled to some city taxes for maintaining, watering and caring for PUBLIC property eh?

  188. That is wrong. You put work and effort to maintain your poperty and you get punished…

    Let us know who we can vote-in to replace whom ever is supporting this. Or publicly vote aginst who is enfourcing/supporting this tax. You have friends here… Just give us names.

  189. Anonymous says:

    I live nearby in Arlington Heights and we have an alley between my building and a restaurant that gets decorated year round. Come spring new plants and flowers and vegetables get put it by people from both sides of it. It brings a lot of foot traffic and wedding photos are taken there. It would be a real shame for someone to ruin it and destroy the happiness it brings the whole town. I think what they are doing to you is appalling and it sounds a lot like someone really just wants to make their mark on the town and puff their chest out by snuffing out a beautiful idea. I hope your neighbors help to support you.

  190. LauraDrahan says:

    They should be paying you for the beautification of the neighborhood!

  191. I say NO to a garden tax.

  192. Anonymous says:

    this is surely one of the silliest laws i have ever heard of! this (or any) garden is a benefit to everyone, and any sensible city government would be encouraging such things.

  193. Lionel says:

    We must stand against this government over reach. Imposing taxes as a punishment while regulating every aspect down to our own breath is out of control. If you want to live in an HOA then move to an HOA but once you let the government say you cant have a garden in your front yard then what else cant they say you can't have..In your back yard for that matter..They do in HOA..We have to pay for everything…even self sufficiency

  194. Anonymous says:

    Dear Warrenville City Council.

    With a state as broke as yours, what a waste of time and money for city officials to focus on this piddly ordinance.  This garden is beautiful, a much needed improvement for normal easement properties that are usually left abandoned by the cities.  She is using her own time and money to make something beautiful, so that you guys can come along and discourage it.  If I was her I would strip it and leave it as dirt, that seems to be what you want.  Although not so good for her you probably have a dirt easement ordinance that involves a fee.  Another embarrasing political joke from Illinois.  

    I am originally from Illinois.  I used to be proud of that state, but no longer.  Keep up the good work, you make CA look great.

    John Jones
    another free gardener in CA that supports Illinois gardeners.
    Sent from my iPad

  195. CoLLoyd says:

    This tax seems senseless and counterproductive to everyone involved. If there are legitimate reasons for this ordinance, then why did it not cause a problem all along, and why was permission granted previously? The garden is beautiful, non-obstructive and no more permanent than grass would be, and we know grass would be allowed.

  196. lisapaintergirl says:

    Boo to the city of Warrenville! Nothing like taking away any incentive to take care of one's neighborhood. This is ridiculous and is one of the reason's I can't wait to leave Illinois.

  197. Anonymous says:

    I am appalled that this city would discriminate and especially tax someone who is working so hard in such a positive way. Knock it off city officials!!!!

  198. Trey Gibson says:

    This is unconstitutional and a violation of rights. This tax should not be happening on your own private property and needs to be waived. You have my support.

  199. goldensylph says:

    Wrote a letter to your illustrious town officials and told them this is going viral. I write for Technorati. I will write an article about the ridiculousness of this. Let me know if the officials do NOT reverse their decision.

    I joined and followed your blog. Please follow back on http://www.thefatandtheskinnyonwellness.com/ I write about many things…and write about causes here and on Technorati as well as news.

    I'm interested to follow this. I asked for a legitimate reason why they are taxing. I'll let you know if they reply to my letter.

    Thanks,
    Carole Di Tosti, Ph.D.

  200. Bonnie says:

    I wish I could say that I'm surprised by this, but sadly I am not. Your garden is beautiful and I wish you success in your battle against this idiotic tax.

  201. Anonymous says:

    Like someone else said, I wish I was surprised, but somehow, I'm not. Just a little disgusted. Good luck with your city council, and congrats on such an awesome garden that the city thinks it's too cool.

  202. I can't believe that they would do this to someone who's making the city a beautiful place! What a horrible mistake on their part.

  203. Susan M says:

    Dear Warrenville City Council,
    It appears that you are trying to dissuade this young lady from having a community garden. Did you consider the educational opportunities, the attractiveness of your community to our more environmentally aware society of today, the neighborhood bonding and environmental responsive and activities that can be done surrounding this garden and others that spring up as a result. I believe you are missing a wonderful opportunity here and choosing to make it prohibitive rather than conducive in your community. This tells me and others that your community is not one I want to live in or visit.

  204. go native says:

    With our pollinators suffering even more than our people in the US, a garden is good for the soul, the food supply, and our future. Plus any local native likely would have been on your property long before your house, city, street, or laws were in place. This fee might worthwhile only if it were to help support a program to encourage and support urban gardening and agriculture. I wish the council members each spent as much time as this wonderful woman has on this garden, out in the community doing good deeds and helping improve the city.

  205. Anonymous says:

    !!!!IT’S TIME TO VOTE THEM OUT!!!!

  206. Anonymous says:

    It would be different I suppose if they were beautifying the easement areas themselves. But without your help they would be left unattended…and full of weeds. As what you are doing hurts no one and pleases everyone, then perhaps an ordinance requiring such beautification in areas adjacent to homes would be more appropriate than one discouraging it…

  207. Bryan R. says:

    I would never want to live or visit a place with laws like this, how un-American. Warrenville, I will drive around you from now on, I don't even want you to collect the sales tax from my gas station visit.

  208. Anonymous says:

    Band together with those neighbors who compliment you and have them plant gardens too. You've gotta have support on this with your community. The gangsters will always come for the easy target (you) but when they're dealing with a whole community engaging in civil disobedience(I can't even believe I'm equating planting a beautiful garden-and yours surely is- with marching on streets. All the best to you. Keep talking, writing posting. You know that we're with you, but I'm in Korea so there is only so much I can do

  209. Your response to the city council was very moving and well put. I applaud your control. I may not have been so nice. You have made such a beautiful garden and they want you to pay a “Garden Tax”! Something they made up to get more money! Shame on you Wharrenville. I would never like to live in your city if this is how you treat your citizens! No to the “Garden Tax”

  210. Anonymous says:

    Warrenville city administrators you put the ass in this asinine tax. I'm reminded of Ghandi's words when asked what he thought of Western Civilization. “I think it would be a good idea.” What would Warren think of his ville if he were still around? Drop the stupid tax.

  211. Mama Turtle says:

    The city should be paying YOU for beautification services, not trying to charge you for helping them out!!! First off, that garden should have been grandfathered in because it was there before the stupid ordinance, and second, taxing gardens is the worst idea I've heard of in a long time, second only to ordinances that disallow gardens altogether. In times like these, MORE people need to be gardening to ease their grocery bills and grow herbs to help ward off colds to keep them working, and they should not be charged extortionist fees to do so! I will be sure to spread your story far and wide. This will not stand. I remember learning about the Victory Gardens of WWII, how in those hard times having gardens both beautiful and fruitful were patriotic, and those were certainly never subject to ridiculous fees! Even if these are just flowers, they are beautifying the city and drawing people which draws revenue for the city and the local economy. It's a lot better than a bunch of weeds! This fee nonsense is the sort of thing that makes people NOT want to move there or try to make it prettier. Greed is getting out of control!

  212. Anonymous says:

    I have maintained the space between the sidewalk and the road since 1964. Perhaps I should send my city a bill? The garden tax is ridiculous and to single people out is also ridiculous. Good for you to fight it! Good luck.

  213. WTH?? You do nothing but make things better for around you and your community…Do you pay property tax? Then why Garden tax? I never heard of such a thing…. Please keep us informed of whats going on… That is whats wrong with this country.. Taxing for everything… say BS!!!

  214. Anonymous says:

    Your garden is beautiful. Your city should be grateful for it. Shame on them.

  215. Beautiful gardens such as yours enrich a city. Your city council needs to get to work on solving issues –not creating them! Citizens who create gardens should be celebrated.
    Go Shawna

  216. Not only should there be NO garden tax (ridiculous!), but they should pay YOU for maintaining this gorgeous neighborhood enhancement and ammenity!

  217. Shades of “Oak Park Hates Veggies” in Warrenville? So sorry to hear of this happening to you, but I am glad you have the power of social media to spread the word about this unfair tax. Best of luck!

  218. I have to echo the hundreds of others in my comment of “that is ridiculous.”

  219. daydreamer says:

    Appalling, why would anyone choose a grassy weedy landscape this not only adds beauty but doesn't cost the city a dime to keep up. You've made a wonderful strip that adds interest, upped value & added pride. If anything your efforts should be encouraged & the city should be asking for your help to expand. A lot of people are struggling & wildlife has been edged out for years to urban growth. We feel so bad & hope the city officals take a step back they are short sided. They should feel bad wanting to tax people for doing something about eyesores that are often littered with trash & have to be maintained & need to be voted out of office.

  220. Anonymous says:

    jecings upprevelShame on you Shawna for dragging the reputation of the City of Warrenville through the mud. This is NOT a tax, and was never described as such by any representative of the city. It is a one time “recording” fee. The garden in question is NOT on an easement owned by Shawna, but is on public owned right-of-way.

    Did the city ask you to remove your garden, or make changes to your plantings? Or did they simply ask you to follow city regulation?

    The City of Warrenville's response is here: http://www.warrenville.il.us/c_news-article.aspx?latestnews=1&id=838

    I do not know, but can make an educated guess that the city did not initiate this process, but is merely responding to a formal complaint from another citizen. Legally the city is required to follow up on zoning violation reports.

    I am a resident of Warrenville, and pass by Shawna's garden on my commute to and from work, frequently on bicycle or on foot. I think the garden is beautiful and well maintained. I have even shouted out a “Thank you!” when I come peddling by and see Shawna out working on the garden. I do not want to see it removed.

    However, I do think the regulations make sense, and are in place to protect citizens from unwanted, unmaintained, and possibly dangerous plantings in the right of way. It is true that the regulations were recently revised, to actually make the process of planting in the right-of-way more well defined. It was well advertised that a commission was going to be looking at the right-of-way ordinance, and I showed up to express my concerns,(as far as I know I was the only citizen to comment) and happily they were reflected in the new regulations.

    Dan L.

  221. Leona says:

    It is outrageous that your city would fine you for having a garden on easement property. Rightly they should be paying you.

  222. Leona says:

    It's outrageous that your city would fine you for improving the easement property. Rightly they should be paying you.

  223. sharpstown girl says:

    I can't believe you weren't “grandfathered” in as is the norm in situations like this. So, what do you do now, mow it down? How shortsighted can one city be? Seems there should be some way to post a sign on this garden asking bypassers to call the city to protest in your behalf. But, to me, the most disturbing part of all this is that so few are being singled out. The law applies to all, not just a few. How can they justify this? And what would the courts say about applying the law selectively?

  224. Anonymous says:

    It's time that people with the power to make these types of decisions, no longer have the power to make these decisions!

  225. LJ says:

    Wouldn't the county make a lot more money by taxing people who are NOT beautifying county property? I would think a big dead pile of weeds harboring mice, ticks and other pests would be more harmful to the city than a beautifully maintained plot such as this. If they want to make money, they are looking in the wrong place. I'm not sure what kind of point they are trying to make by singling you and 5 other homeowners out, but it is much more damaging to the city's reputation than a well tended plot of flowers could ever be.

  226. Leilani says:

    That is horrible! I hope they make things more reasonable and more fair in the future. Good luck!

  227. bob hudson says:

    I hope they vote these people out of their positions and repeal this stupid law. Leave it to local government to go out of there way to penalize people who make a positive contribution to their community.

  228. Heather M. says:

    In Champaign-Urbana they call these flower Islands and the Park District manages them paid for by taxpayer dollars! The city should be thanking you for all that you are doing at no charge to them. You are spending your money, your labor, love, etc. This is really what is wrong with the world–they take a positive thing (not to mention all the ecological benefits natives and other plants have on the environment) and turn it into a negative. I hope they realize their mistake and correct it!

  229. Not only should you NOT be taxed, you should be given a tax credit for your garden. Good luck and thanks for speaking out about this.

  230. Donna Grant says:

    This is unbelievable that a city would impose a tax on a person who is improving and beautifying the area around them. I live in a town that encourages community gardens. It brings property values up and visitors stay longer and when they stay longer they spend money. Warrenville you have it backwards.

  231. Sean Jordan says:

    What is up with this city counsil? Tax on a garden? My goodness, makes one unwilling to live within the boundaries of this municipality. I would never move there. Tax this, tax that. Cut some city services. It is obvious, this is paying someones salary, or some pork within the city. Doesn't a city have more important things to do, like helping the citizens. Don't punish those who are trying to do good. Let them express themselves, let them do what they do best, diversity is a great thing. This is communism at its best.

  232. Sean Jordan says:

    I wouldn't move there. Diversity in a community is a great thing. Don't punish positive self expression. This tax is supporting some sort of pork.

  233. Sean Jordan says:

    Don't punish self expression. Diversity is a great thing. This certainly not an item to tax. I would never move there. If I did, I would consider hiring a lawyer.

  234. On February 22, 2012, statements were made that Warrenville, Illinois, taxes gardens and enforces property maintenance codes in a discriminatory manner. These statements are false.

    When a resident wants to place an encroachment in the right-of-way (ROW), which can range from an underground sprinkler system, to a fence, to a garden, it is the City's responsibility to make sure that its water/sewer utilities are not damaged, as well as any other agencies' utilities (i.e. electrical, natural gas, or telecommunications). In addition, the City must consider the costly burden of restoration when a ROW with an encroachment is dug up to maintain/repair those utilities. Finally, the City must consider the liability exposure if someone is hurt by the encroachment.

    This is achieved through a ROW permit, which is a one-time fee of $35 that covers the labor cost of inspecting the property, reviewing the plans and reviewing the City's utility structures in that ROW. It also ensures that the applicant takes full responsibility for the encroachment, both in terms of maintenance and liability. Many residents have placed encroachments in the ROW and have followed the permit process in place without concern. The permit is filed and recorded with the county, for which they charge $40, so any future property owners are made aware that they are responsible for the encroachment. To say that the permit fee is a tax is a misrepresentation of the facts and inflammatory.

    There are other clarifications needed. First, the piece of property in question is not an easement. An easement is a private piece of property that the private property owner allows the City or a utility company to use. In this case, the property is City-owned right-of-way for which the adjacent residents do not pay taxes on and are not responsible for maintaining. The law regulating encroachments in the ROW was not enacted only a few years ago. Rather, the City's ROW ordinance has been in place since 1978 and was amended in 2009 to provide more flexibility in allowing things in the ROW.

    The City of Warrenville supports green initiatives and gardening. For the last five years, the City has granted public tax dollars to Warrenville in Bloom, a local chapter of America in Bloom, which plants flowers and promotes gardening throughout the community. A quick view of the City's website (www.warrenville.il.us/b_storm_bmps.aspx) demonstrates the efforts Warrenville has made to encourage the use of best management practices for stormwater runoff, much of which include native plantings and gardens.

    The City of Warrenville is not against gardens, and the $35 for a small amount of permits does not even cover the City's costs. Warrenville is careful to ensure fair and equitable code enforcement and to limit the City's liability exposure in order to ensure that public tax dollars are used responsibly. Please take time to listen to Community Development Mentzer's explanation of this issue at the following website (his comments begin at 92:40).

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/backyardpoultry/2012/02/22/backyard-poultry-with-the-chicken-whisperer

  235. Laura Thomas says:

    This is absurd. Keep being a physical presence at the council meetings. It does help to be 'seen'. Speak whenever you're able, and bring friends. You should probably also have a conversation with your local papers. I hope you are able to get this 'garden tax' overturned.

  236. It never ceases to amaze me at how ridiculous some of the things our elected officials come up with- this one takes the cake. Apparently they are not seeing the forest for the trees, these are the types of decisions that get them voted out of office, as well they should be. You know you have my full support!

  237. Elisse says:

    This is NUTS! They are literally punishing you for enriching the community. They should be paying YOU- at least covering all your costs!!!! SHAME on the ignorant greedy pinheaded idiots of Warrenville! Hope this petition succeeds in making them backpedal on this.

  238. Janeen B. says:

    I'm shocked that the city counsel didn't address your concerns after you spoke at their meeting. Cowards! I think everyone reading this would agree that they are in the wrong. I can understand that trees and invasive plants would be an irritant to the easements, but your garden is lovely and useful. I hope they reconsider this ordinance and revoke their request that you and the other five families are singled out to pay fines and sign agreements by force.

  239. Anonymous says:

    This is outrageous! This lady is doing a service for the city and you want to tax her?!

  240. Deb Aldridge says:

    OMFG! What is wrong with these people? I am shocked beyond belief that any city would fine someone for planting on an easement. It's still your property! We aren't allowed to plant on the swales in front of our houses, but no one ever told me I couldn't plant on the easement. I did have the power and water companies come and show me where lines ran before I planted anything, but they never said I couldn't, just not to plant things that could damage the lines. I DID unintentionally install paver blocks over the phone line, but not permanently. They were not amused when they had to pull some up to get to the line to repair it. LOL

  241. Jeff Ferris says:

    I would say this is unbelievable, but this has happened repeated times in cities all over America. The quick and effective response is what you are doing: Pointing out the stupidity to the web community. Everyone here needs to forward this to every single web site they can find, including the local AND national news organizations. The bright lights of public scrutiny is the quickest cure for incompetent government.

  242. Anonymous says:

    yet another misguided and desperate local government. fight the good fight. you certainly have more support than you know!

  243. Anonymous says:

    Some communities encourage volunteer groups to maintain right of ways. It is a pity your area is discouraging such community involvement.

    Kathy in Florida

  244. Barbara D says:

    This is a sad and unfortunate trend. Municipalities are thinking of new ways to tax their citizens and it's not inconceivable that in the future there will be a tax on our own veggie gardens, flower gardens, landscaping, etc on our own private property. This robbery will only result in less attractive communities.

  245. Anonymous says:

    This is the most rediculas taxing reason I have ever hard of. If anyone's benefiting from the your garden that is actually your council for it's (your garden's)influence to the commnity and the economy. In fect they should be paying you for your hard work and for being a encouraging citizen to others. I have seen many lands and community areas abandoned and ignored by city council's, which can subconsciously be real disturbance and unhealthy for the people leaving in that area. I totally disagree with your council and hope they will come to their senses and wave this hidious taxing. What you have to understand the economy is so bad right now, people everywhere looking for ways and opportunities to make money, and your council is no exception. In fact I will take them to the court for harressment and for bringing unnecessary stress to you. Don't give up fight!!! Your gaden looks nice on the picture. All the best!

  246. Ally says:

    I've never heard of anything so crazy. The city should pay you for improving and beautifying the easement. Best of luck to you. Hopefully common sense will prevail.

  247. Felicia says:

    I support the no tax on gardens on easement properties. If anything, you could send the city a bill for beautifully managing their property.

  248. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely Ridiculous form of unnecessary taxation!! I would fight this all the way if it were me either. If this ordinance is not addressed/fairly executed by City Council, I would contact EVERY form of news media that would listen to you. Call your local news channel- If Warrenville is fairly small, contact the news media in your nearest major city! Then contact your state representative; possibly they can get involved. I have never heard of such an ordinance in ANY city. Your plight has the potential to make NATIONAL news! Pursue it! Your letter to City Council is well written and needs to be heard by many more(far and wide)! Good Luck!!!
    —Angered Homeowner/Gardener in Indiana.

  249. Narda Jeanne says:

    As it has been said throughout these posts, this is a no brainer issue. Why would the city want to discourage the beautification of it's city street? And with all the budget cuts and layoffs, why are they spending money on the “garden police”?

  250. Maureen Kuntzmann Pennsylvania says:

    In Philadelphia, folks adopt lots and plant vegetables and flowers. Wake up out there! You owe this woman money for keeping the property beautiful. I bet your city facilities aren't as well maintained.

    Gardens bring bees and birds. When the bees and birds disappear, crops don't produce.

    I have an easement behind my house, which is a total mess. It was fenced in to keep folks out. It is home to thistle, weeds, briars, and a couple old trees that provide homes for the birds. However years ago, folks could plant vegetable gardens to help feed their families.

    You should be ashamed of yourselves, as humans, part of the same food chain and carbon footprint in this world. Leave the gardeners alone, tax the cancer causers, stop thinking about making money and think about making sense. Your little town is part of the bigger picture, the earth. Be green. Provide help to the keepers of the green, not bills.

  251. Dear Council,
    This gives America a very bad name. In Europe we are being encouraged by our Councils to improve our environment. They contribute spare land and we bring in the time, effort and plants. In many areas where there are difficulties of one form or another with bureaucracy guerrila gardening has taken off and our Councillors smile benevolently and look the other way. Looking the other way is sometimes the best thing to do when there are daft rules.

  252. I've heard of a similar situation in the Detroit area. A woman planted a vegetable garden and the city wanted her to take it out or she would be fined. Crazy considering Detroit has been a city greatly affected by the recession. Growing your own food should be encouraged. I hope the city re-considers this “garden tax”.

  253. Wipigler says:

    in todays sad economic times it is typical and shameful that government officials would abuse their power to rob a woman, start up business person, entertainer and neighbor. keep fighting! thank you for all you do for us and for your Passion, gardening!

  254. Linda says:

    I am a neighbor of this beautiful garden and I am at a loss to understand why the City sees a need to institute a tax. The city should be grateful for a citizen so willing to take great efforts to beautfy the neighborhood in which they live. There are many unsightly areas in Warrenville these days and it is nothing but a shame that those who actually care are being singled out and made to “pay” to do what the city should be doing in the first place. Shame on my city for being so short sided.

  255. Janet Davis says:

    Shawna: There are many enlightened municipalities in the USA. Sadly, your town is not one of them. Bylaws are meant to be challenged, and this is a very good one to stand up to. In the best of all worlds, Warrenville IL would be PAYING YOU to keep a garden on their behalf. But that's not how civic government goes about its business. They make foolish laws, and until such laws are struck down, there are people who enforce them. They're not to blame; it's the city officials who create the laws. So stand up to them – it's worth the fight, and you have lots of support. Janet Davis, Toronto

  256. Anonymous says:

    Sorry this is a bit late. I am a resident of Warrenville. Since it has become a “home rule” community the residents have bullied by the strong arm of the law.

    The promises of the savings for the residents by becoming a home ruled community came at the cost of our freedoms!

    Tree City USA, Bloom of America? Can't plant on the ROW and I watched acres of trees removed from my neighborhood…so sad :(

    Warrenville was the rural in between the city of manicured lawns and over developement. It was a gem!

  257. angeloakley says:

    Absolutely disappointed in the method used to address this issue. Shawna, you have done a great job advocating for community gardening and beautification. If someone had a problem with it, you should have been contacted directly – rather than a group of people coming up with an ordinance to now make your “good” efforts criminal. I hardly find sense in this, but having served within the municipal government system – I know first hand how dysfunctional it can be.

    To the government officials – my advise – you should take some time for reflection on this one. This is a serious injustice for many reasons. Many people put flowers and other beautifications in the public right of way – often they are obligated to care for that space – so why on earth would you charge them for that.

  258. JUDY A HALL says:

    ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS! THEY SHOULD BE PAYING YOU !!!!

  259. This is ridiculous! Firstly, there should NOT be this 'garden tax', but if they must do it for whatever reason, then they MUST do it the same for everyone in the city! I'd be semi inclined to search out other similar gardens they're not targeting for fines and tell them you'll pay when they are all charged too, but then you'd be hurting other people so probably not the best idea…

  260. It is perplexing as to why a city council, elected to serve the city and its residents and businesses, would oppose a garden that is designed to beautify the landscape and provide ecosystem services. I wish you all the best in opposing their garden tax, and hope that it gets removed/reversed in favor of gardeners who are doing nothing more than making the world a better place for all of us. #NOGARDENTAX

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