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A Landscape Issue Status Update and Why Gardens Can Help A City #NOGARDENTAX

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Gardens Can Help Cities

Dear Readers – Thank you very much for your support, but please STOP sending mean, nasty, or hurtful notes to the City of Warrenville over the issue of the post I wrote on this garden I built for the community. I am interested in making a peaceful statement and asked for peaceful comments. I want to work with the city in the future to help beautify and encourage gardens like this one; not attack the city in a way that discourages cooperation!

Instead of sending harsh emails to the city, can you please help me protest peacefully by listing ideas and comments on the blog posts? Thanks very much!

I want to clarify a few things so you all can understand what has happened regarding this issue over the last 48 hours since the original post was put up. The City of Warrenville has issued a statement and there was a radio interview. In some things I was wrong and I want to clarify the story so you might understand the purpose of bringing this into the public light.

What I Hope To Accomplish and Why

Many of you want to know what I hope to accomplish by making my concerns about this garden issue with the city public.

#1 – AWARENESS.

I’d like more people in my city and around the world to be made aware of how public and private gardens built on easement and right of way areas can be an enormous asset for community and urban living.

#2 – FAIRNESS.

I would like to see policing of easement properties in my cities and across the nation to be done so fairly and without discrimination.

Why Gardens Can Help Cities –

In cities across our nation initiatives are forming in relationship to parkway beautification, urban agriculture, water routing bioswale plantings, and residential landscaping. These initiatives are performing two roles; functioning as a practical solution to a problem and beautifying communities to raise economic feasibility.

Every day people are discovering that they can make a difference for their communities. For instance, perhaps they plant a parkway or right of way with drought tolerant native grasses that divert a water problem for the neighborhood. Or perhaps they plant a drought tolerant garden that helps bring more pollinators to the urban growing environment. Or perhaps they plant a garden that helps feed the local community.

By happenstance these types of practical landscapes planted on a public way might also be improving the value of the homes, reducing crime, and encouraging outdoor activities within the community.

Better yet, this landscaping is not created on the city’s dime, the gardens are built and maintained by homeowners on public property with their own funds and labor, saving the city considerable building and maintenance funds, yet allowing the city and the greater community to reap the rewards of having beautiful and attractive public right of ways.

When a homeowner builds a useful garden of this sort, there are several things that might happen that benefits a city regarding this plat of land:

  • Less energy is used to maintain the property because no lawnmower or automated devices are generally needed to complete upkeep
  • Less chemicals are used to maintain turf because these gardens do not typically need weed killers, this both saves the city money and prevents chemical run-off into water tables
  • CO2 offset is less because no gas lawnmowers are used for these types of landscaping
  • More water is saved because native plant landscaping does not need the same attention as grass and the plantings act as water sponges collecting water run-off
  • Feeding the community’s hungry citizens with fruits and vegetables grown in the gardens help people living in the city survive in a down economy
  • Neighbors come together to help work on the garden, promoting health, neighborliness, and community growth
  • More gardens in the visible areas of a city means more tourism and visitors will want to come and spend money in a city, keeping the value of both homes and businesses in a city high.

There are many other benefits. I feel cities should be working to reward citizens who are putting out considerable time, money, and effort to build this type of landscaping which promotes sustainability and community.

For instance, the City of Warrenville has recently joined the Cool Cities Project. This is an amazing program whereby cities across the United States are taking the lead and becoming greener and more sustainable. Many of the cities participating in this project are trying to implement clean energy solutions that save money, create jobs, and help curb global warming and I know this is important to Warrenville. Having more citizens spending their own money and effort to create practical, solution-driven landscaping in right of way, easements, and lawns – particularly visible gardens to enhance home and business value – will contribute to this project in a strong way.

We gardeners and homeowners built these special landscapes to help the city and our community. We are saving the city money and helping our neighborhoods and communities. We are making a difference.

Under our current ordinance system, I feel as if gardeners (meaning me and other easement/ROW gardeners) who are trying to practice this forward and positive landscaping to help the city are being punished with recording fees, bureaucracy, and unfair policing. My term to describe all that is “Garden Tax”.

I feel like our community should examine these ordinances and policies and come together to build a better system which works with the Cool Cities Project. A system whereby businesses, residents, and the community at large benefit by creating these beautiful and practical landscapes.

Garden Tax Term Clarification

To clarify – the city is imposing an ordinance fee on my garden. Yesterday I said in my blog post – “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.” I stated that it is a fee related to an ordinance from the very beginning.

I titled the fee as a “garden tax” and I did this because essentially a tax is a charge imposed by a government on a service, product, or activity in order to raise revenue. I also feel residents who are trying to beautify the city are being punished in a negative way with recording fees, bureaucracy, and unfair policing of ordinances and this is a part of what’s happening as well. The term “garden tax” is meant to incorporate all of these points into a single description. However, to be extremely clear, on the books the specific fee is not titled a tax, it is a processing fee set in place because of the ordinance for Right of Way and Easement land.

The city says it is not a revenue fee. The city says they are not breaking even on this fee they impose. The fee is $35 processing fee for the city and an additional $40 recording fee imposed by the county. This is a one time fee.

Right Of Way Versus Easement Clarification

Yesterday a city official went on a radio show with me. Both sides were well stated and approached from a calm and intellectual side. I am glad about that. The official said the above garden is on a Right Of Way and is owned by the city, but I had always thought my easement extended to the sidewalk, several feet beyond my fence line.

A city representative came to my garden last week, toured it with me and mentioned several times “the 10 foot easement” at the back of my property. She never showed me the plat or tried to measure or define the space, so I assumed she was simply referring to the garden behind the fence which is in question. I had a friend with me to witness this visit and I confirmed this with her – that no one showed us a plat or measured anything out with us.

During the radio interview the city official mentioned the term “Right of Way” [ROW] in referencing the landscaped space in question and that the city owned the property entirely. I had never heard this term in reference to my property and did not know it applied to the garden I had built. The garden does not encroach on an intersection or block traffic, which is what I thought defined a ROW situation. I was wrong.

Because I wanted to better understand what was happening, I sent a note to this city official to ask him to help me define the differences between easement and ROW and how it all works. He sent me a kind and helpful note back with a plat illustration demonstrating how and where the easement line is.

Turns out my fence rests on the back of the easement line and I have been inadvertently Guerilla Gardening on the city ROW without ever knowing it. Our city allows this, but requires an ordinance agreement be signed and a fee paid to do this. This fee is what I was protesting because I thought the gardens were on easement, not ROW.

According to the radio show commentary there has been an ordinance established since the late 1970’s although the ordinances have been revised over the years. However, when I called the city over five years ago and asked them about what I could plant in this over grown weedy/grassy area I was not sent to a special department to get an ordinance agreement with the city or anything of that nature. I was told by the person answering the phone that they did not know about easement planting and would call me back. When they called me back, the city told me what I could and could not plant but never told me I needed to pay a fee or sign anything. So I was unaware of the original ordinance. I called and asked and they did not tell me about it.

I was wrong about the definition of ROW and want to be the first person to detail it out so everyone knows I made a mistake in this. However, having said that, there are other issues.

Discrimination Clarification

As I understand from listening to the radio show yesterday, the city official explained that there has not been a specific complaint about my behind-the-fence garden. There was another homeowner in the City of Warrenville who was asked to pay the fees for an easement/ROW garden. This person pointed to my garden and several others in our community and said, “What about Shawna? If I have to pay the fees, so does she.”

So from what I understand from the radio conversation yesterday, the city listened to this man and went to the individuals who own these easement/ROW gardens – selecting only a few out of the hundreds of people who have easement/ROW landscaping in the city – and told them to sign the ordinance and pay the fee even though there was no specific complaint about their specific landscaping. On the radio, they said this was a complaint driven situation. However, I have never received a written complaint from the city or anyone else about my garden in any form. This afternoon I was sent a note from the city letting me know I would most certainly be receiving a letter to document, in writing, the Landscape License and Covenant Agreement permit requirements I need to comply with, the timeline for complying with those requirements, and the consequences of not complying with those requirements.

I do not know who this original man who made this complaint is. But he was not complaining about my landscaping if the city official explained correctly on the radio show, he was complaining about the process with which the city was policing the gardens. He was saying it is not fair that the city came after him for the ordinance fees and did not go after other people with easement/ROW gardens too. If this is what he is saying, I believe he is correct!

If the city has a citywide ordinance in place stating that all people with easement/ROW gardens should be required to sign the Landscape Covenant Agreement and pay a processing fee to the city, then everyone in the city who has this landscaping issue should have this fee levied on them. Not just that one original man, and certainly not just 5 or 6 gardens which were pointed out without complaints filed against them. Everyone. If the city does not have the staff to do this citywide policing of landscapes, then in my opinion they should reexamine the way these easement/ROW areas are addressed.

My point is that by insisting only a few people be pushed into signing the agreement and paying the fee when the rest of the city does not have to do so, it is singling people out in a discriminatory fashion.

I find this particularly unjust when I have never had an official written negative complaint against the specific landscaping we are discussing here from anyone from the city or otherwise. I have not heard about the other people who are being approached, so I do not know who they are and if they have received a formal complaint of any kind.

My concern is that the policing of the ordinance is based on the original complainant who was not complaining about my landscaping, but was complaining about how unfair it is that he would be singled out to be enforced when no one else in the city was. I agree with him. I think it is very unjust when the policing of ordinances is done so in an unfair fashion.

If the city is approaching this man and also approaching the 5 or 6 people he pointed out to enforce code on, then why isn’t the rest of the city – all the residents with landscaping in easement/ROW areas – also being approached? Choosing only a few just because they have larger landscaping areas is segregating a certain part of the population into a category. It is not fair. I see it as discrimination. The city does not.

What The City Told Me Today

Yesterday I sent a note to the city explaining that I loved Warrenville and wanted to work towards a compromise. I explained why I was so hurt and why I had a shocked reaction to their initial approach with me. I apologized for some of my fans I heard about that were radical and had sent harsh notes to the city. This is NOT what I ever intended. I want a peaceful approach and want more people in the city to work together.

They sent me an official response saying they do not have the ability to negotiate a compromise to the situation and are sending a letter to document, in writing, the Landscape License and Covenant Agreement permit requirements I need to comply with, the timeline for complying with those requirements, and the consequences of not complying with those requirements.

My Vision Of The Future and Hope

I dream of a future where homeowners can do something astounding – be allowed to make a difference with a garden landscape in public right of ways and easement properties with strong encouragement and support from their cities. We should ask our communities to examine these ordinances and policies which are rife with complication, filing fees, and unjust policing strategies. It seems to me that these gardens and landscapes are something that needs to be positively reinforced, not negatively reinforced with filing fees.

We need to find a way to come together to build a better ordinance and policing system which works with programs like the Cool Cities Project. A system that helps save money and helps bring money into our communities in a sustainable fashion. A system whereby businesses, residents, and the community at large benefit by creating beautiful and practical landscapes.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Please leave a comment below in peaceful support and also please list any ideas you might have to help cities across the country understand more about why gardens can help cities.

Thank you.

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27 Comments

  1. Shawna, call your state representative, your congressman and your senator. Present it to them as a discriminatory enforcement. They cannot legally pick and choose who they choose to enforce against. They are trying to prove because you are a celebrity that you don't get special treatment. In short, they are jealous. Fight it, Shawna. If you don't, this is how governments take over people's lives — flower by flower — because they won't fight back.

  2. Zoning rules get changed all of the time. I ran this past our city's “keep it beautiful” liaison and all they need is a code that reads “You may plant xyz in the easement/ROW. You may not plant xyz in the easement/ROW.

  3. Start a petition to have a new policy/ordinance drafted that would allow for homeowners to garden in the city ROW (citizens) without fees. That's what we recently did in Portland, OR. No problem.

    So sad you are having to deal with this. Good luck. Keep gardening!!

  4. In the ROW in front of our house I have replaced the grass with a little trellis, stone edging, rocks, vines and flowers so I wonder if the city will someday ask me to pay $75 for this. Others have done similar things also. I think flowers help make for a more beautiful neighborhood. The threat of a $75 fee however will just discourage people from making their homes and the neighborhood looking beautiful. We need to get them to drop this fee.

  5. Unless I am mistaken, the reasoning behind ordinances like these is usually just to regulate what can and cannot be planted in an easement or ROW. This is usually designed to prevent people from planting trees/ shrubs near utilities or places that would obstruct vision. Another problem can be “permanent” hard landscaping such as a stone ring around a tree, trellis structure etc.

    When I was planning some landscaping like this, I contacted the zoning department and asked a lot of questions and outlined my plans fully for them. They were very helpful and supportive in their attempt to understand what I had in mind and helped me to make a few changes that could have created problems.
    I do think the targeted enforcement is wrong, but I can see their point of view in that they mostly rely on reported “violations” to refer for enforcement. I think this is similar to a lot of code violation enforcement by cities and counties. They usually don't go actively looking and instead rely on complaints or discovered issues when they are doing other work in the area.
    Congrats on the beautiful garden and please don't get discouraged, you are on the right path. Work to understand the system and then work to get changes made if they are warranted. Talk to someone from your local ACLU or get a free consult with a local attorney if you feel they are discriminating. Just proceed carefully. If you call them to task they may start citywide enforcement and then you will quickly become very unpopular in your community. Keep up the great work.

  6. If you had to call the city to ask if you could garden the land, then to me it's obvious you knew it wasn't your land to begin with.

    Now there's a new rule about people gardening on land that's not their land.

    1. Pay to continue gardening on land that you know isn't yours, or if you don't want to pay, stop gardening on land that you know isn't your land.

    2. Other than the phone call a few years ago, how does the city even know it's YOU that's gardening on land that's not yours? Perhaps someone's been “singing” a lot of Me, Me, Me to get the city's attention.

    Doesn't your state/area have a Master Gardener program? Most Master Garden programs I've looked at promote community gardens. I'm not going to look it up, but I'm guessing you wouldn't have to pay a “tax” out of your pocket to be in charge of a community garden.

  7. Shawna,

    I agree with the person who said to start a petition to change the ordinance rule. You get enough people together (talk to garden groups, etc) and big changes can happen.

    Should you decide to sign the agreement and pay the fee, I strongly urge you to consult an attorney first. From listening to the city official on the radio, I got the feeling that liability would be transferred to you if you sign. I may be wrong, but I'd want to be certain.
    I am impressed by how calmly and rationally you are explaining your viewpoint. Stick to your guns; you are doing wonderful things!

  8. Wow, what a dustup over something that should be simple. I planted stuff and did other landscaping on the front of my lot in an unincorporated area, knowing full well it is beyond my property line. I'm not sure if it is on easement or ROW. I knew I was at risk that if they ever widened the road, it would be destroyed, and if they felt like mowing it, they could. I took those chances knowingly. It NEVER occurred to me they could CHARGE for use of the land! And of course in unincorporated that may not be the case. But were it in Warrenville, I'd be at risk and would be dumbfounded. it seems like a foolish ordinance – or one that is being misapplied. If a business were to want to use city property for say, a parking lot, thenit makes sense they would have to pay for it. But homeowners decorating what would otherwise just be boring weeds mown periodically (at expense to the municipality)? Absurd.

  9. I'm sorry that you're having to go through this. Thank you for speaking up and for promoting beautification of land, no matter whether the official owner is an individual or a government. My personal opinion is that there's no actual need for registering and processing and filing, so there should be no need for fees. If a government is concerned with plantings for the purpose of safety and avoiding possible damage to utilities, an ordinance stating what cannot be planted/changed should be sufficient. Individuals who are willing to maintain ROW or easement property save money for a government department. I'm curious about what the consequences for being non-compliant are and hope you will update us when you receive that information in the mail. Do you have any pictures of what the area looked like before you planted?

  10. Sandra –

    Before I planted the area it was just grass.

    In fact, before I planted the area the grass between the fence and sidewalk was rarely mowed down around my home area.

    Once I planted the garden the city started mowing the entire area between our fences and the sidewalk that stretches behind my neighborhood.

    It does look significantly better.

  11. The most helpful piece of advice I can offer to get people to stop sending nasty messages to the city of Warrenville is for you to stop tossing around words like segregation and discrimination in regards to this case. Those are loaded terms and part of the reason why people are so riled up.

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse. You knew you were gardening on property that didn't belong to you because, as was pointed out above, you called your city to verify what you could plant there. That nobody ever sent you a specific letter outlining what the strip of land was and what you could or couldn't do doesn't excuse you from doing the research.

    Have you ever heard of term, “the laws on the books”? Well, there are these big books with laws and ordinances that you could look up for yourself when undertaking a project. These rules, which you think shouldn't apply to you, have been in place longer than you've lived on the community. You should've researched them.

    It is unfortunate that you decided to take this to the Internet instead of researching for yourself and working with Warrenville to find a solution because now you've created bad feelings towards yourself. Those people who had to deal with the nasty emails and phone calls-which you provoked by publishing the phone number and Email in your original post-are now not going to feel so friendly towards you. So, how will you fix the issue and make it up to them and your city for making them look like fools before the World Wide Web? Have you even considered how backwards you made your city and neighbors look by putting on this display, in which you were in the wrong from the beginning, in an effort to draw attention to yourself?

    Finally, on the issue of the “tax.” Another term you shouldn't be using because you don't understand it. What is being levied is a filing fee-not a tax. In a perfect world we wouldn't have to pay those, but the city employees have to paid from somewhere, don't they? Money doesn't grow trees. Where do you think the money to pay the wages of the people who had to answer the angry emails and calls from your “fans” comes from? It's not even that big of a fee when you think about it. Plus, considering how much you blog about getting for free (from products to trips around the world) you would think you could afford it.

    That neighbor that ratted you out did so because you've made yourself a target by always trying to draw publicity to what you are doing in your front garden and in the back. That's not “guerrilla gardening.”

    Good luck, because you'll need it to mend the fences you allowed your hubris to crash through.

    1. You know what? It IS a tax! The city is looking to pull income from every source imaginable…the city can call it what it wants, but making money from small sources is revenue, and that’s what they are looking for. I say the city should ditch the fee entirely, and let people grow what they want as long as it doesn’t interfere with the utilities and they keep it looking nice. Lets have some common sense here…if that city is micromanaging that badly, it’s time to move…

  12. OY. Ok so take a step back. No more inflammatory remarks! Shawna is VERY passionate about what she does. She is not at fault for how she reacted. This is her life, her career and she had every right to speak out.

    In terms of what to do next, that's entirely up to Shawna and no one else.

    Getting a copy of the Landscape Agreement is the first step. Getting a copy of the revision before that is the next step. Comparing the two is the step after that.

    If there was nothing in writing sent to residents about the change in those versions i.e. ROW or easement requirements, then abide by the new change, within reason.

    Everything will be in writing now, which is a good thing. No assumptions, no generalizations, and finally, the micromanaging of all of this will eventually dissipate. I give it 2 garden seasons, lol!

    I know contracts, that's for sure, and yes, contact state and federal governments if you want, but baby steps first.

    We all love ya, lady. Let us know if you need anything.

  13. Are we talking about growing marijuana or flowers??? If you drive on any country road,you will see flowers growing…Grandparents take theyre grandkids on country rides just to see some beauty…Just like this nice lady is doing..showing people beauty!!! Who cares who owns the land,the vision of beauty is much better for the community than a row of long,ugly grass that the city didnt even maintain!The state of Illinois just raised the toll way fee from 1.50 to something like 3.80 a car!! If Illinois needs money so bad,dont go after the gardeners trying to clean up the black mold X Governor Blagoavich grew..Go after the voters that voted that crook into office.

  14. So this is a “filing fee,” eh? What are we “filing” about the gardens, and why in the world is this registration needed?

  15. So let me get this straight. It's their land,but they weren't taking care of it before you started gardening it?

    Where I live, you must keep your property free and clear of weeds or face heavy fines.

    So you are gardening a 200 foot strip of land saving them the cost of caring for it.

    Seems kind of petty for them to demand you pay a fee.

    Tell them you are abandoning your garden instead of paying the fee. They are free to do what they want with it (which they would have anyway). They will of course ignore it. If you continue to garden it, what are they going to charge you with? Pulling weeds on public land?

  16. I'm in Canada, reading this blog. I'm totally shocked with the City getting involved. Since they aren't looking to make money, it is a power trip, even more so since you say that only a selected few are affected by this. It's wrong.
    Go the paper about this too! I agree completely with Deb's reply, fight this because what you're doing is a good thing and shame on them for trying to ruin natures beauty!

  17. Maybe I'm being too simplistic but I agree with the poster who has pointed out that YOU are caring for what the City is claiming as THEIRS and yet they not only want you to CARE for it..they want you to PAY to care for it???I wrote a letter…very like what I have posted here..to be told that I was being “hateful” and NEVER to contact them again.I was astounded!I said nothing “hateful”..called no one names…made no disparaging remarks about anyone..I simply “asked” WHY when a person has created a lovely space..to be enjoyed my anyone who walks by..would the City feel compelled to be abusive to them AND require them to PAY for making a beautiful spot out of an “ugly” spot.In my estimation..a letter of THANK YOU would have been more appropriate than charging them for work THEY had done to improve City land.I am SO grateful NOT to live in your City.You have my most sincere sympathy.Our City officials often suffer from head up the posterior..but even THEY can be brought around to reason after a bit.Yours appear to be much more abusive.I think you should follow the advice of others and pursue this through outside sources.This City group NEEDS to be brought to heel.

  18. Personally, I'd donate the plants to a non-profit organization and leave the area with nothing but dirt, if that is what they city wants to give you for your hard work and beautification of the city. THEY can manage it at THEIR cost. [Meanwhile, I'd add a few hanging plant boxes over the fence.]

    If they want a beautification program, they can pay for it. You should not have to pay for it. But then again, I would expect no less from the socialistic nanny state of Illinois.

    Meanwhile I'd contact the ACLU to discuss how you and five others are being singled out and discriminated against. I'd also contact your state rep for your district and advise them of the situation.

    Seriously, you are telling me it takes $75 to accept paperwork, stamp it, log it in a computer, print it out along with an additional check, postage to the county to do the same?

    Unless the city and country workers are making $20 an hour, that's outrageous!

    And no, this opinion is not hateful [and sorry folks, not a TP'er]… it's called a First Amendment Right of Free Speech regarding what seems to be discriminatory action and unethical practices of a city to charge simply for making notes in a computer somewhere.

  19. RE: Warrenville does not tax gardens. I earnestly hope that you are not an employee of the city. Although some of your comments are on point, your own tone and punitive attitude are not at all professional. It appears that the overwhelming majority of respondents are sympathetic to Shawna and why she was upset. In defense of her character, she wrote an update which corrected any errors she had previously written and asked her readers to NOT send unkind letters to the city. She implies that she wishes to work with the City of Warrenville and I truly believe she has a genuine concern for the overall well-being of the community. Also, it is hard to argue that local, as well as other governments, are increasingly over-extending their reach into the lives of citizens. It would be a true pity if Shawna were to be retaliated against or shunned for speaking her mind. This writer, in my humble opinion, by making personal comments on Shawna's freebies and “hubris” is disclosing more about him/herself as being a bit envious of her hard earned success, respect, and notoriety. Again, my opinion.

  20. WOW!! Quite the ordeal and it sounds like it's not gotten any better. My suggestion would be to have everyone with gardens to put up donation boxes to help pay the fees. Whatever is left over~ plant some more pretties!! Mother Nature would be proud of you! Thanx, too for the heads up on this type of issue! ☮

  21. You own the property to the center of the street. The city has a Right of Way. A Right of Way is a type of easement. I had this argument in my town when they told me they had a 10 foot Right of Way onto my property. I told them if they did anything on my property it would be a “taking”. They may have a right to take property but they have to PAY YOU for what they take. With takings they have to pay for taking your property, including taking your view AND taking the use of your land away from you. There is no public interest in whether you have a garden or what plants you have there. Drive around and take pictures of tall grass or other planting in your city. Especially at the houses of government officials. Your next meeting you can point out that they are not following the ORDINANCE either. Also send a registered letter and ask for the ordinance in writing, how they think they obtained the Right of Way and why they think they OWN your property. This is about property rights. The city hopes you will quit asking questions. A Right of Way means only that they have permission to do things on your property NOT that they own the property or can disturb the surface.

    I can give you an example. The Power company has a Right of Way on our land. They put signs on the front door “giving notice” that they wanted to come across our land and cut down trees near the power line. I am the only one in my neighborhood to say no. I am the only house in the neighborhood that did not have their trees cut down and some had weed killer sprayed in their yard. While the power company had a right to walk in their Right of Way THEY ASKED to cross my property to get to the Right of Way and I said if they sign an agreement that anything they did to damage my property they would pay for. They decided not to cross on my property.

    The only way to find out what an ordinance says is to look it up and read it yourself. The library should have a copy. City and corporate officials usually do not know what they are talking about. They have been told to do something and have put no further thought into it. I find a great deal of property rights information is on the internet as well as people that have gone to court with the cities to force them to admit they have no actual legal right to do what they do. And I believe it is worth spending 2000 dollars and keep your rights than to spend 35 and loose your rights. Now that you have paid the money they asked, if it is later proven to be charged to you without cause you can win money damages and they will generally leave you alone after losing.

  22. Governments must indeed be heavily overstaffed to spend time on such matters.

    The Ontario Superior Court noted in 2003 that if residents are required to maintain city-owned property adjacent to their homes, then they have the RIGHT to decide what to plant there, so long as their gardening does not present a health or safety hazard.

    Given the vast resources plowed into maintaining lawns, you could argue that turf presents a health hazard (eg. pollution from gas mowers, chemicals used to keep it green…) and that the city should therefore remove turf grass from all the land it maintains.

    Please post an update for 2013!

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