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Philadelphia gardeners happy about change to zoning amendment

1/25/2013 | Real Estate Blog

City Councilman Brian J. O’Neill, in a recent victory for gardeners in Philadelphia, recently dropped a proposal to change the city’s zoning code that would have made it more difficult for farmers and gardeners to operate within the city. The proposal would have required that community gardens and farm obtain special permission from the Zoning Board of Adjustment in order to operate.

Supporters of the requirement had argued that the bill would give local communities an opportunity to provide input regarding the way land is used and prevent outsiders from setting up gardens without the consent of the neighborhood. It has been pointed out that some gardens have been set up over the years on abandoned parcels without official permission from landowners.

Opponents, on the other hand, said the bill would require more jumping through hoops and increased costs for urban farms and gardens, and that the bill could shut down existing gardens and prevent future gardens from being established.

O’Neil said on Tuesday, though, that he had discussed the matter with several members of the Council, and decided amend the bill so that community gardens and market or community supported farms would be allowed to exist as a matter of right, as they would have been under the new zoning code.

Philadelphia currently has an estimated 350 gardens and farms on 1,200 parcels of land. Over 200 of those are in mixed-use commercial areas under the city’s new zoning code, which took effect last August.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Councilman backs off on community-garden zoning amendment,” Allison Steele, January 23, 2013.